UM students react to global Netflix sensation ‘Squid Game’

On Sept. 17, “Squid Game” dropped on Netflix and took the world by storm.

In the show, 456 financially-strapped players from Korea are selected to compete for a fortune of 45 billion won or 38 million US dollars. The competition consists of six childhood games and if a player fails the round, they are eliminated. In these games, however, elimination equals death.

The main characters of “Squid Game” include the amicable Seong Gi-Hun (played by Lee Jung-jae), his childhood friend Cho Sang-Woo (played by Park Hae Soo), fellow player Kang Sae-byeok (played by HoYeon Jung) and police officer Joon-ho (played by Wi Ha-joon).

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Not even a month after its release, the gory survival drama has surpassed “Bridgerton” as the streaming platform’s most-watched series.

The records don’t stop there: the show has also reached No. 1 in 94 countries and it has become the first-ever Korean series to reach the top spot in the U.S. In fact, over 95% of viewers are outside of Korea, proving that it is indeed a global phenomenon.

Shantalle Martinez, a senior double majoring in psychology and English with minors in art history, biology and chemistry, commented on how the show has taken over social media.

“My Tik Tok ‘For You’ page went from the normal shenanigans to everything Squid Game — especially conspiracy theories,” Martinez said.

“I’ve heard amazing reviews about the show… even my chemistry professor said he just watched it,” said Orissa Symmonett, a sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry & health management and policy.

A far cry from escapist television, “Squid Game” is a dramatic depiction of society as it is now — a world where a desire for wealth drives people to commit unthinkable acts. It’s a world where innocent childhood games become deadly.

This survival game trope can be seen in films like “The Hunger Games” and “The Purge,” but “Squid Game” rewrites this old concept with a fresh perspective. While these films are set in a dystopian future, the nine-episode series feels like it could happen in real-life.

Aside from its poignant social commentary, the series is also visually appealing. The bright, colorful set design contrasts a plot that is dark and deadly. This brilliant creative choice amplifies the show’s suspense, crafting an image that will last with viewers long after they finish watching.

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Like the rest of the world, students on UM’s campus have watched and enjoyed “Squid Game.”

Samantha Savitz, a sophomore majoring in English and art history with minors in creative writing and microbiology, commented on her favorite aspect of the show.

“I really liked the show’s action and use of hidden clues that you could spot in hindsight to solve for the big reveals,” Savitz said. “It made the show exciting and something I want to rewatch.”

Julie Ornelas, a senior exercise physiology major with minors in chemistry, public health and Spanish, echoed this sentiment.

​​“I just thought it was really captivating and I kept wanting to watch,” Ornelas said. “Even though parts of it were predictable, it was still a question as to how things would go down.”

While the plot and suspense captivated audiences, viewers have also expressed their appreciation for the actors.

“Shoot, I understand why the main character entered the Squid Game in the first place — cause I’d let that man slap me repeatedly for free,” freshman marketing major Angela Ansah said.

Though the majority of coverage on “Squid Game” has praised the show, not all UM students enjoyed its graphic nature.

“I personally found it all to be really uncomfortable, very violent and gory,” alumnus Scylla Blervacq said.

“It actually raises very interesting questions on the functioning of our society, it’s just really the concept of the story which left me with some discomfort,” Blervacq said.

Even with all the buzz surrounding the show, not all UM students have seen it yet.

“With school, I don’t have the time to commit to a new show,” Symmonett said.

Although she hasn’t seen it, Martinez added that the overwhelmingly positive reviews have given “Squid Game” a spot on her to-watch list.

“I like shows that have substance and a message about society, so I definitely want to watch it soon,” Martinez said.

Featured image taken from Instagram: @squidgame_netflix