The secret behind the massive success of Netflix’s “Squid Game”


Graphic by Haylee Griffith

Netflix’s newest sensation, “Squid Game”, has taken the entire world by storm in such a short time. Initially premiering on Netflix on September 17, the show has since increased the streaming platforms’ viewership by 481% and has managed to become a global sensation. 

Spreading popularity all over social media, the South Korean thriller has taken over TikTok with #squidgame currently standing at 42.1 billion views. Officially becoming Netflix’s biggest series launch ever, it is easy to see why the show has accumulated over 111 million dedicated fans. 

The drama involves a relatively simple idea as it follows around 456 participants that are debt-ridden and compete for the opportunity of a lifetime with only one person making it out alive. The participants are smuggled onto an island and tasked with completing six rounds of children’s games that cost them their lives if done unsuccessfully. The grand prize for the last one standing is 45.6 billion won (equivalent to about 38 million USD). 

In a poll conducted involving 263 A-West students, 49% have already watched “Squid Game.” As for those who have yet to watch the show, it seems to only be a matter of time before they join in on the hype. 

Junior Cami Doody explains she wants to watch the show because “Almost every person I talk to asks me if I’ve watched it.”

Social media has been flooded with “Squid Game” content and many new trends have emerged to replicate infamous scenes from the show to the point where it is nearly impossible to not know about it. What causes this universal liking to the show is really quite simple as the message behind it is something just about everyone can relate to. 

John Marshall with Deutsche Welle explains, “Simplicity is evident in the show’s message: starkly evoking a poor and dissipating middle class with a top 1% who do what they want regardless of the price everyone else has to pay — a reflection of society in the real world.”

Inspired by the politics and history of South Korea, “Squid Game” highlights economic inequality and shows clear commentary on the line between low and high-income individuals as a group of billionaires smugly watch the participants compete for their own entertainment. Viewers identify with this idea so much which creates a deep relatability as those who watch the show can identify with the participants and root for them. 

Having characters that range from all walks of life makes it nearly impossible to not resonate with at least one character and provides viewers with a deeper connection when watching the drama. 

Another reason the series has resonated with fans so much is simply due to the fact people love the genre of survival shows. This format of having a competition of life and death has been done over and over again and has proven to be a massive success each and every time. The Hunger Games and even The Purge are just some of the many universally known and loved examples that are similar to “Squid Game.” 

The biggest reason for the massive success of “Squid Game,” however, undoubtedly falls into the fact that it can be universally enjoyed all over the world. 

Lucas Shaw with Bloomberg explains that the show “is the first Korean show to break through to foreign audiences at such a large scale, and is even driving viewers to other similar East Asian content. The series has been filmed in Korean, but Netflix has dubbed the show in 34 languages, and even provides subtitles in 37 languages.”

By offering such a wide variety of languages to watch the drama in, Netflix continues to prove why it deserves to be the most popular streaming service. “Squid Game” is open to so many more people than most other shows given how many languages it can be put in, therefore making it clear why people all over the world are so invested in this show.

In the age of social media where anything and everything can spread instantly, it is no wonder “Squid Game” has seen massive success in such little time. Relatability is something people crave more than anything, especially in our current state and the creators of “Squid Game” used that and so much more to their benefit. Breaking record after record, “Squid Game” proves how important it is to know your audience.