So Many People Are Watching ‘Squid Game’ — Why Is It So Popular?

'Squid Game' is one of Netflix's most popular titles, but why is this deranged series reeling in so many viewers? Here's what we think is going on.

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Sep. 28 2021, Published 9:40 a.m. ET

'Squid Game'
Source: Netflix

If you spend enough time on social media, then you're going to come across more than your fair share of individuals who like to flex their intellectualism. They'll wax on about any and every subject with all the might their sociology degrees wield. They have unassailable opinions and reject our species' innately shallow nature.

But if many of us are so highly evolved, then why do shows like Netflix's Squid Game become so popular?

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Seriously, why is 'Squid Game' so popular?

Humanity's always trying to prove how "deep" we are, but its the shallowest forms of entertainment that we gravitate toward. We were bored out of our minds with Lincoln but absolutely gobbled up Django Unchained. No one's busting down the doors to visit the opera, but we'll cackle with delight at Avenue Q.

'Squid Game'
Source: Netflix
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That's not necessarily a bad thing because what we decide to do with those shallows (once acknowledged) is the difference between something that's gauche or classy, but love the shallows we do.

How else would you explain why Netflix's brutal series, Squid Game is so darn popular? The show's premise has enthralled audiences all over the world, bringing streamers together over the shared joy of watching (fictional) people get murdered.

But the reason why the show is so popular goes a little deeper than that. It's a combination of factors. The first is that despite its extremely dark subject matter, it's shot in a very vibrant, colorful setting. These disparate elements only heighten the violent absurdity of the games.

And then there's the nature of the ultimate "prize" offered to contestants as well: a life-changing amount of cash.

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The $37+ million that awaits those who win the game means that whoever wins that amount of money will not only be set but their kids and grandkids could be as well. With that much capital, one could completely change their family name.

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Some have called the series a condemnation of capitalism that heightens the concept of wealth inequality and explores just how far some folks would be willing to go for financial security.

By depicting the "ruling" class as bloodthirsty murderers, the film really does hit upon a universal truth: that those in power will do anything to ensure that they can continue to make money doing whatever they want.

The military-industrial complex in the United States is just one of many examples of that, not to mention pharmaceutical companies admitting to killing Americans just so they could sell us doctor prescribed heroin.

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But the biggest universal truth that the show hits on is just how little so many of us value our own lives. Some are willing to go to the most extreme lengths to win a lot of money.

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Disconnect from reality is at an all-time high, especially with the advent of social media platforms warping our sense of who we are. Squid Game highlights that in gory detail, and I don't think it's a mistake that this harsh lesson is taught through the lens of childhood games, either.

It shows just how far many of us have strayed from that younger version of ourselves, the one who would look up at the ceiling and dream of all the great things we wanted to accomplish.

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