Squid Game Analysis

Graham Hynes ’22


Netflix has had yet another hit drama TV Show, but this time there’s a twist. Squid Game, released earlier this month, has taken Netflix by storm, leaving international audiences head over heels for this new Korean dystopian thriller. 

Millions of Korean won in debt, 456 of Korea’s most desperate are invited to play a series of childhood games for an irresistible cash prize. The twist: losing the game means losing your life. 

Unlike most dystopian storylines, Squid Game is notably set in present day Korea. This modern setting makes the show that much more gripping and realistic. While Squid Game is able to be enjoyed at surface level with its bright colors and brilliant cinematography, deeper analysis reveals the show’s interesting take on late stage capitalism. The show tackles issues of the impoverished like poor healthcare, familial and custodial troubles, addiction, and the toll that economic instability takes on the mental health of the working class. 

Beyond the show’s representation of the lower class, the games themselves serve as a microcosm of the lives that the players are so desperately trying to escape. The contracts signed by players upon entering the game give the participants an illusion of free choice, similar to the one between employment and joblessness presented by late stage capitalist society. As the games continue, the audience begins to learn more about the “V.I.P.”s behind the operation. These “V.I.P.”s, ultra-rich bourgeois entertained by the slaughter put on the Squid Games to quench their sadistic thirst for drama and adventure, mock wealthy stockholders and their detachment from the working class. 

While Squid Game is initially perceived as a fantastical thriller, its content is largely reminiscent of today’s society.