As a person who finds it difficult to sit through a TV show, and who loses interest and starts looking at her mobile 10 minutes into any show / movie, binge watch is not really my thing. I have recently come to the conclusion that I can only watch limited series and that too over weekends.
It was hard not to know about the new show, ‘Squid Game’ on Netflix. Everybody was talking about it. Actually let me rephrase. Everybody was not talking about it. I don’t know of any person among my friends / family who has watched it. I even did a little poll on my Whatsapp Status on it. As expected, people knew about it but had not watched it.
Netflix wants us to believe that this is ‘the show’, completely phenomenal and that every human in any part of the world is addicted to it.
Now this is what happens when there is so much hype. You think that everyone is watching it so you should watch it too, otherwise you are missing out. It’s no longer a show but something like the Olympics! It is news!
So, I completed the series this weekend. I made my mother also pick up in between and watch few episodes, even though she hates violent shows. She closes her eyes when there is any blood!
‘I want to know the end’, she said.
I will keep in mind that most people have not watched the show. So this review will not have any spoilers. At least nothing more than what you already know. Here is what worked for me:
- Originality always works
I have not watched Hunger Games. One of the games in Squid Game reminded me of ‘Stepping stones’ in ‘Takeshi’s Castle’, a show I watched on Pogo. I also used to watch ‘Just for Laughs’ on Pogo. These were comedies. Survival games on the horror side are not inherently a new concept either. Neither are concepts of betting on people and subjecting them to violence for fun. We have seen it in the ‘Hostel’ series. Still, Squid Game had a fresh plot. If I count on the shows on Netflix right now, and I hate romance shows, this one would probably be on the top ten just basis the engaging plot and the interest in knowing what comes next.
- Games are fun
Games are thrilling and fun to watch and my generation in India that grew up watching ‘tasks’ in Roadies as teens knows it. In Squid Game, the games are all kids’ games so they are not difficult to understand or follow. The names might be different but these games are played in all parts of the world. For example, ‘Red Light, Green Light’ is something we play as ‘Statue’. Of course, the stakes here are life and death and the games get brutal.
But who can resist a game!
As my mother said, ‘I want to know the end’. You always want to know who wins.
- The larger than life sets
The first episode will be enough to get you hooked. The initial pink and yellow sets even reminded me of Bigg Boss! The bunker beds accommodating hundreds was also a visual delight. The first game with the creepy, gigantic doll whose cover picture I have put sets the tone for the entire series. It is shocking, it is impactful and it is sad! The directors, the writers, the actors everybody has achieved their purpose when the scene evokes so many emotions in the viewer. That doll is the next Annabelle!!
Her cute face, her childlike voice, her 180 degree head turn like in the Exorcist, and of course what she does is all very obsession worthy!
She is already an internet sensation! I read that she was put to display in a museum in Korea where she is missing a hand!
- People like violence
I read somewhere that this will be the biggest show after Game of Thrones. I didn’t like the Game of Thrones. I tried to watch it but gave up.
I personally don’t think it is violence that people like, but it is the fantasy element of it that people like, that something like this can also happen. Something so weird, so insane, so inhuman, so illegal can actually exist!
- The human element
Debt. Poverty. Desperation.
In the age of EMIs, who is not in debt?
Everybody dreams of paying off that debt sooner than later. What if you get an opportunity? The show has done an excellent job giving the backgrounds of each of the lead characters. They are miserable in their life also, as they are in the game. Similar to what we see in prison shows. Their lives inside are not much worse off than their lives outside. All the actors have done a brilliant job. I don’t know their names, but they are already famous.
- A metaphor
You can interpret the show any way you want. I personally look at it as a metaphor for the stressful, materialistic lives that we are living, losing everything in the rat race. Whether it is the CA course, the MBA, the PhD or B.Tech you give it your all.
It starts with competition, eliminating the others and once you get started you have no option but to stay to survive. You get jobs where you are competing again in a pyramid like structure but ultimately it is survival of the fittest.
You did everything to make money and you thought it would make you happy. Except that you want to make more money, and money is never enough. There are so many others doing better than you. Happiness is a joke at the end of the day. You want to rest, you want to relax, you want to be liked, you want to have fun. But there is no time. You want to do what you like but unfortunately with your lifestyle, you cannot afford to do paintings and write poetry and have to spend 12 hours doing something you don’t like.
There is no way out, and you know it. You are stuck. Much like these poor players in the game.
‘We are not horses’, the protagonist had said in the show. Well, I don’t think we are horses either. We are rats! The problem is that in this game, everybody plays. Everybody loses! Very few win and that too at an indefinable cost.
In the last year, irrespective of covid we have seen people in their 30s, 40s, 50s die. We know that we are doing something wrong in life. And that’s just death. Unhappiness, there is no measurement of it.
It is just a hollow feeling.
Okay, enough of my preachiness!
Share your thoughts in the comments. If not for this show, any other show you have watched recently.