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‘Squid Game’ Becomes Netflix’s Biggest Hit Series Ever - 111 Million Views in 28 Days

Ben Bowman

Move over, “Bridgerton.” Netflix has a new champion and it’s the story of 456 people playing a life-or-death game in Korea. “Squid Game” just became the most-watched series in Netflix history with 111 million views in just 28 days.

Remember, Netflix has just over 200 million subscriptions worldwide, so that’s an incredible ratio. To put it another way, if each view was a movie ticket, there are only eight movies in history to sell more. It’s within reach of “Titanic,” which sold 135.5 million tickets. Remember, Netflix counts two minutes of viewing as a “view,” but that’s still a wildly impressive number.

What is ‘Squid Game’?

In case you haven’t seen it yet, “Squid Game” is the story of a down-on-his-luck divorced father. Desperate for money, he agrees to play a game with a massive jackpot for the winner. What he doesn’t know is that contestants who lose the game are executed.

It doesn’t have anything to do with squids. That’s just a reference to a playground game that involves a court roughly shaped like a squid. It would be like calling baseball “Diamond Game.”

We’ve previously written that “Squid Game” is everything that's right with Netflix. From the audacity of its premise to the high-stakes twists to the white-knuckle cliffhangers, this series overflows with everything we love about streaming entertainment. Episode 6 packs some of the biggest gut-punches you’ll see on a screen this year. The instantly iconic costume design will likely appear everywhere this Halloween.

Squid Game

September 17, 2021

Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games—with high stakes. But, a tempting prize awaits the victor.

Winner Take All

In a time when movies and TV are often simple retreads of exiting intellectual property, “Squid Game” is a breath of fresh air. It’s weird and shocking and it feels authentic. In much the same way the Korean import “Parasite” bowled over the film community, “Squid Game” demands attention. Both stories use their unique premises to illustrate the growing class divide around the world. It’s a universal struggle crystalized with a daring premise just close enough to reality to be plausible.

“Squid Game” echoes the success of Jordan Peele’s films, “Get Out” and “Us” — all are exaggerated stories that hit a universal theme. Whether deployed in “The Handmaid's Tale” or “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers” or “The Stepford Wives” or “Gulliver’s Travels,” this approach has worked as long as humans have told stories.

These stories have a way of cutting to the heart of a matter when political discourse can’t. In 2021, it’s obvious why so many people feel like they’re trapped in a rigged game with life-or-death stakes. “Squid Game” merely dramatizes the experience.

Netflix also translated the series into more than 30 languages, making it accessible to far more countries than its rival streaming services.

Yes, “Squid Game” could have flopped. Plenty of Netflix series have. But there’s something instructive here for entertainment companies around the world. Audiences do crave the comfort of familiar stories, but smashing through the clutter requires an original vision, the guts and the budget to pull it off, and the eloquence to articulate a common experience in an uncommon way.

“Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk deserves all the accolades coming his way. Let’s hope the rising appetite for streaming entertainment opens more doors for creators like him.

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