“Experience guilty pleasure at its finest with Squid Game: The Challenge – a show that will have you watching through your fingers.”
There is a sense of discouragement in seeing three individuals looking up at a large sphere holding over $4.5 million and becoming enthusiastic over a mere few thousand dollars being added to it. However, as representations of contemporary capitalism, this particular moment in the final episode of Squid Game: The Challenge is uncomfortably accurate. The pursuit of wealth is the ultimate goal, and as seen in popular reality shows like The Apprentice and movies like The Hunger Games, the victor claims everything.
The drama that sparked this unique challenge show was incredibly striking. It was a powerful commentary on our cutthroat society, portraying the belief that there are only a select few winners – like the one in Squid Game – and countless losers as the norm.
The Challenge in Squid Game seems to go against the underlying values of the drama. The satirical elements are no longer present; instead, the game has become the very thing the drama criticized. As before, the intensity is intentional, not accidental. However, now it is being used for our amusement.
Wow, what a spectacle. Some may have watched with a sense of fear. Others may have worried about the safety of the participants – reportedly, two are considering legal action against the producers. However, the show’s incredibly captivating quality overrides any valid criticisms.
It can be seen as a culmination. The entire past of aggressive elimination-based competitions has brought us to this moment. The show’s movements and contrasts are precisely balanced. The editing is expertly done. For both viewers and contestants, it is a constant surprise. Even moments of calmness, such as a picnic or banquet in the finale, quickly turn into intense situations. The personal stories of the participants, some of which are tragic, are readily utilized for dramatic effect. While this is not uncommon in other shows, it feels especially striking given the high stakes involved.
The mundane nature of the obstacles is also evident. Without spoiling too much, the ultimate challenge surpasses them all. In this drama, the idea that the fate of lives is determined by children’s games – while wealthy individuals watch and mock from behind one-way mirrors – is a poignant commentary on the randomness of success and failure. It serves as a criticism against the false notion of “meritocracy” in a society where unregulated wealth thrives. It can feel despicable here. At the moment, we are the amused audience, but eventually, we will be the ones being laughed at.
It is possible that, similar to Big Brother, the debut installment of Squid Game: The Challenge could prove to be the greatest (a second season has been ordered). The participants are truly a diverse group – representing different cultures, nationalities, and generations – but also, at their core, inquisitive and open-minded individuals. The challenges have had a sense of discovery; in the next season, there will be no cliques of college guys futilely strategizing for a game of tug-of-war that never happens. Even the experience of living in a massive warehouse with hundreds of conniving strangers in matching green tracksuits will seem less unsettling in the future.
This season has introduced a common language that will become more precise and focused. However, it could ultimately be a matter of strategy – both in terms of gameplay and production.
One noteworthy aspect of the last phases is that, despite approaching the endgame, there has been no indication of the contestants discussing sharing the rewards. This is a key element of the moral foundation of Squid Game: The Challenge. It is unlikely that these conversations did not occur, but rather they were not portrayed. The show’s main focus is the thrill of risk-taking. The concept of cooperation does not align with this spectacle. This could possibly suggest that this spectacle goes against our moral compass.
The Squid Game challenge has been enjoyable, but at the same time, it has also caused feelings of guilt.