“Squid Game” becomes most streamed Netflix show

Courtesy of Pixabay. The iconic symbols from Squid Game, worn by guards to indicate character's rank.

Rio Scarcelli | staff writer

Oct. 21, 2021

It is highly likely that any avid Netflix-user has run into the new Korean drama Squid Game.  The series was released on Sept. 17 and has gained a gross income of approximately $900 million since it debuted.  As well as this, Squid Game garnered 142 million views within the first month of its air date, making it the most-streamed Netflix series in the platform’s history.

Squid Game actually took much longer than the average series to gain traction.  The show’s writer, Hwang Dong-hyuk, conceived the idea for the script in 2008 as a feature film after reading various sci-fi mangas.  This came as a surprise to Korean studios, as they rejected Squid Game on account of it being too violent.

Some time for reflection allowed for Hwang to elongate the plot and add side stories that would allow it to become a series.  Taking another shot, Netflix dropped Squid Game in 2018.  

Filming began with notorious Korean actors Lee Jung-jae (Seong Gi-hun) and even HoYeon Jung (Kang Sae-byeok) making their debut on the silver screen.

The show was able to amass so many views in the first month that it topped Bridgerton, Netflix’s prior most popular series.  The British drama was only able to achieve half the amount of views that Squid Game did, even during the Covid-19 lockdown when it came out.

A recent statistic released by NBC stated that two-thirds of Netflix subscribers have watched Squid Game as well as received a net increase of 4.4 million subscribers for their third quarter.  Interestingly enough, 70,000 of those subscribers came from the U.S. and Canada, where the remaining amount had an international spread.

So what is it that made the show so popular?

First, the demographic made a huge impact on viewership.  Because of the representation of Korean media on a largely Americanized platform, director Hwang said that the plot line heavily resembled recurring themes within Korean pop-culture. 

“What got me to watch the show was how interesting the concept sounded and the many good recommendations,” sophomore Zarena Neves said. 

She said she felt the show was “overhyped” or “slow,” and only gained traction because of the demographic appeal.  Regardless, Nieves gave the show a chance, and overwhelmingly supported its popularity.

“I think the show is so popular because it is so intriguing and different when compared to others,”  Nieves said.

The drama is riddled with strong, loveable characters that are able to find a sardonic mix of humor, tension and selfishness as they attempt to portray the true dynamics of desire in a fight to the death.  What makes this show so stand-out is that it gave the viewers a break from knowing their favorite characters could die at any moment.

Given how much time Hwang had to revise and embellish his show, it is no surprise the amount of Easter-eggs and attention to detail that is present within each episode.  With fans already beginning to ask about a season two, the director revealed how much of a toll it was on him to create his first drama.

“Writing Squid Game was harder than normal for me as it was a series, not a film.  It took me six months to write and rewrite the first two episodes,” he said.

Most of the work Hwang has done is within the movie realm. He said he wishes to continue his vision in assembling a larger team.

“I don’t have well-developed plans for ‘Squid Game 2.’ It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors,” Hwang said.