Netflix’s “Squid Game” is causing a stir. Here is why it is so popular.


“Squid Game” is more than just a hit for Netflix – it’s also the Internet’s favorite show.

Released on September 17, the nine-part Korean thriller is set to become Netflix’s largest “non-English-speaking show”, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said.

“It’s only been out for nine days, and there’s a good chance it will be our biggest show ever,” Sarandos said last month.

A scene from Netflix’s “Squid Game”.Youngkyu Park / Netflix

Flix Patrol, a website that tracks streaming stats for the world’s top platforms, has reported that “Squid Game” is the # 1 show in dozens of countries including the US, UK. United and South Korea.

Streaming numbers for Netflix are not independently verified, making a show’s popularity difficult to quantify. Netflix executives did not respond to requests for comment.

Julia Alexander, senior strategic analyst at Parrot Analytics, said it was clear that “Squid Game” had been a huge success, adding that she would use one word to describe how much of a win it was for Netflix.

“’Unprecedented’,” said Alexander. “I guess the executives knew from the talent they used, because of the region they released it in, that it was going to be a hit in South Korea. I would put a lot of money in the process. that the leaders had no idea it was gonna be a worldwide hit. “

The show follows Seong Gi-Hun, played by Lee Jung-jae, as he and hundreds of other desperate and deeply in debt contestants face off in a fierce and often grotesque competition for around $ 38 million. Only one person can win the prize, and those who lose the children’s game series pay with their lives.

On social networks, users keep talking about “Squid Game”, especially some of its children’s games, which have lent themselves to unforgettable memes. On TikTok, the hashtag “#SquidGame” has been viewed over 22.8 billion times.

So why is the show so popular? We’ve broken down some of the top reasons viewers can’t get enough of it.

Warning: There are slight spoilers ahead.

Word of mouth

“Squid Game” is a very unique property that does not build on any existing idea or concept, which could have hampered its popularity as a new, foreign property without a fan base. As Vulture notes, although the series has been released in South Korea and other Asian countries, there has been no serious pressure to advertise it in the United States.

Instead, his unique concept electrified social media, where Twitter and TikTok users voraciously posted about it.

“People hear about it, people talk about it, people love it, and there’s a very social aspect to it, which helps to grow the show outside of what we’re doing,” Bela Bajaria said, Head of Global TV for Netflix, at Vulture.

Another reason why “Squid Game” has become a worldwide phenomenon is its accessibility. The show is filmed in Korean, but Netflix offers subtitles in 37 languages ​​and dubbing in 34 languages, allowing those who prefer not to play the subtitles to enjoy it as well.

Even the way the show is captioned and dubbed has opened up conversations online, where let’s say the translations lack crucial context.

“Not to sound snobbish, but I’m fluent in Korean and watched a squid game with English subtitles and if you don’t understand Korean you haven’t really watched the same show. was so bad. The dialogue was so well written and none of it was kept, “Twitter user Youngmi Mayer said. tweeted in a thread that has gone viral.

Netflix’s “Squid Game” robot doll is playing a “red light, green light” game with 456 participants.Netflix

The viral nature of “Squid Game” has led the internet to do what it does with all social media trends: make memes out of them.

Same forage

While the show became the most talked about online entertainment, memes quickly followed.

On Twitter and TikTok, the games characters are to play have been replicated dozens of times, especially a challenge, in which players have to cut shapes – a circle, triangle, star, or umbrella – out of a candy ” dalgona “, also known as honeycomb caramel. Contestants must cut their shapes out of the candy, made from brown sugar, corn syrup and baking soda, without breaking it.

This has led hundreds of people on social media to take on their own honeycomb caramel challenges. TikTok even made a Honeycomb Caramel Filter so users could see if they would survive the “Squid Game” challenge.

Others made a giant robotic girl meme from an episode in which contestants play a deadly game of “red light, green light”.

Audio of the girl singing “mugunghwa kochi pieotsumnid”, which roughly translates to “red light, green light 1, 2, 3!” has been used for over 420,000 videos on the platform, many of which show how people would win or lose at the game.

Some videos show people dancing when they should be running. Others feature real-life versions of the game, showing teenagers avoiding their moms while on the phone when they are supposed to be sleeping in bed.

Non-English programs are on the rise

Netflix had smashed non-English shows before “Squid Game”. Since 2019, the streaming of non-English content by American audiences has increased by 71%, Bajaria said.

Shows like “Lupine”, which was originally in French, and “Money Heist”, which was originally in Spanish, were the best streamers for Netflix. Both offer English dubbing.

And Netflix originals like “Bridgerton” and “The Witcher,” which are English-language productions, got 65 to 70 million domestic streams in their first 28 days, Alexander said. Netflix counts a stream as a household that has viewed at least 2 minutes of a show, Alexander said.

But those shows are pale compared to “Squid Game,” which is set to become Netflix’s greatest show of all time, Alexander said, even though it is brutal, violent and dark.

“You have young tweens and teens watching this in [the video games] Roblox and Minecraft, and you’ve got millennials watching it at home and Gen Xers hearing about it, and they want to watch it, ”Alexander said. “If they say [hypothetically] 80 million households watch it in the first 28 days, that’s pretty accurate. “

Because “Squid Game” was released less than 28 days ago, the company has yet to disclose the streaming numbers.

A harbinger of future programming

Korean entertainment has flourished in the United States and around the world for years.

K-pop, or Korean pop music groups, such as BTS and Blackpink, have huge fan bases in the United States and their popularity continues to grow. Films like the South Korean film “Parasite” dominated Hollywood; it won the Oscar for Best Picture last year.

And now Korean television has its time.

Lee Jung-jae plays Seong Gi-Hun in Netflix’s “Squid Game”.Youngkyu Park / Netflix

“Korean talent, whether it’s K-pop, Korean actors, Korean filmmakers, Korean athletes – there is so much demand for this talent pool that every company in the United States is trying to find a way to bring in that talent, ”Alexander said. .

Not only is the demand for Korean talent high, but the cost is also often lower, which means that Netflix may soon start dedicating resources to creating more content like “Squid Game,” he said.

“I would actually be surprised if we saw fewer K drama movies and fewer Korean movies coming out of Netflix, because they’re going to realize what they have and say, ‘Yeah, we want to invest in that,'” he said. said Alexander.


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