L-R: The 8 Show, Squid Game

‘Squid Game’ Walked so ‘The 8 Show’ Could Run

Squid Game may be Netflix’s most-watched K-drama series to date, but The 8 Show shines in every way possible.

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On May 17, 2024, Netflix dropped the dark comedy The 8 Show. Based on the webtoons Money Game and Pie Game, the drama follows eight strangers who agree to participate in a game that earns them a substantial amount of money for each minute the game continues. At night, the eight are locked on their own floor, and contestants are able to buy basic provisions at one hundred times their normal costs with their current pool of money. During the day, they can use that time to mingle and buy provisions from other people in the group.

At the start of the drama, we see the people work together to build a community. They join hands to maximize the time they have left in the game, each trying to live comfortably with the money they have. However, things take a turn when it is discovered those on higher floors not only have larger rooms but earn significantly more money.

A power struggle commences among the players, who grow greedy for money and become enraged due to the unequal treatment. Amid the ongoing conflict, they must also find out why more time is being added to the clock, and when the game will end.

With The 8 Show featuring contestants desperate for money and trapped in a game, it bears similarities to Squid Game. However, The 8 Show features more depth and delivers its message in a more thought-out way.

The 8 Show features a thrilling, unexpected storyline

The 8 Show follows Jin Su (Ryu Jun Yeol), a suicidal man ridden with debt who aims to use his money for a fresh start. Unlike other K-drama leads, he is plain: he isn’t the most good-looking or smarter, and he is too trusting and kind. He enters the game desperate for a new life and becomes known as “3F,” as he occupies the third floor.

Ryu Jun Yeol in The 8 Show

Other contestants are also known by their floor numbers rather than their names; in fact, they don’t even ask each other for their names, a clear implication that they have given up their humanity entering the game.

Each individual has widely different personalities, which is how the drama showcases a mini-society. These are people who have abandoned humanity after being rejected by society due to their financial desperation; now, the game is their new society.

In Squid Game, participants are told the rules of each mini-game and must find a way to win with that in mind. The same cannot be said for The 8 Game. Here, contestants must figure out how to extend their time, since time is the currency. After discovering time is given to them by amused watchers, they must find a way to create entertainment for their viewers at home. Some of the most tame actions include singing and dancing, while those who are more desperate will torture another person or have sex with someone.

Squid Game

The aspect of players having to come up with their own ways to earn money is unique and dynamic, sparking curiosity and excitement over how unpredictable things can get. The difference in how each floor is treated, with food and water being delivered via elevator for those in the higher level, accentuates the entrenched social hierarchy. Those on higher floors enjoy the good life and often oppress the lower floors, which eventually leads to a dramatic uprising from player 1F.

One thing that sets The 8 Show apart from Squid Game is the lack of gore. While the latter featured scenes of contestants dying and being murdered, The 8 Show has a hard rule against killing.

The 8 Show features a strong message on societal hierarchy

The 8 Show is a dark comedy that tackles themes of capitalism, modern society, and greed in the pursuit of money. While Squid Game focused on class disparity and the lengths people will go to for money, The 8 Show honed in on labor exploitation, class division, and inequality.

Unlike Squid Game, where the rich manipulate the poor into killing themselves or sacrificing others for their sick entertainment, The 8 Show leaves the contestants on their own to devise their own rules and means to accumulate time and money. This allows the contestants to form a mini-society within the game. 8F emerges as the wealthiest and begins exploiting others’ misery for their personal amusement.

The 8 Show

In The 8 Show, the contestants become well aware of what makes viewers spend money on them, and although no one forces them, they become desperate and exploit themselves and others. As viewers at home, we see that when push comes to shove, fight or flight kicks in and humans do anything for their needs.

While watching, you are left asking “Is this worth it? Is the money worth it?” It makes you ask what you would be willing to do in their shoes. With a drama that makes you think, it becomes a more fun watch than Squid Game, which lays everything out for you to just absorb and digest.

The 8 Show is available to watch on Netflix.

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Alexandria Lopez
Alexandria "Alexa" Lopez (She/Her) is a Freelance Writer for TheMarySue.Com. She graduated with a degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications from the University of Asia and the Pacific and has been writing online since 2017. Currently residing in Metro Manila, Alexa has been a fan of K-pop since she was a child, and this is a phase she will likely never outgrow. Besides that, Alexa loves video games, anime, and keeping up her Duolingo streak.