Like everyone else in the world, I have spent the last week watching Netflix’s new hit show, Squid Game. Unlike, I suspect, everyone else in the world, I didn’t watch with the existential dread of someone wondering how they would fare as a contestant (I would die during red light, green light, for sure). Instead, I couldn’t help but feel that I would be very good at running the Squid Game, and could significantly reduce the upfront costs of organising such an elaborate event with seven cost-cutting measures. This piece, it should be noted, will contain spoilers for all 9 episodes of Squid Game.
So here, for the benefit of the organisers of this fictitious games are my 8 Suggestions for How to Run a More Cost Effective (and Therefore More Enjoyable, somehow) Squid Game:
- Cut down on needless waste. Look, I enjoy the sight of a big rope being guillotined as much as the next man but given that the tug-o-war contestants suffered a non-fatal fall anyway, why not just shoot them as they hang there? Needlessly chopping in half three perfectly good (and probably very expensive) ropes was typical of the general waste exhibited in these games. See also the general scale of the buildings: do you have no idea how expensive real estate is in modern Korea? Global warehousing prices have never been higher, and you’re using an aircraft hangar to host a 20x20m Squid Game court? Try reading The Economist, pals.
- There are, frankly, a ludicrous number of contestants at the start. 456 people take part in the Squid Game, and I have no problem with an expansive field — it gives bookmakers a big advantage in pricing the market. But killing, like, 200 hundred contestants in the first game is unnecessarily extravagant. At that point, the contestants are unknown quantities, so the symphony of violence — while visually arresting — is totally depersonalised. And, it should be said, the sheer mass of paperwork you’d have to deal with disposing of 200 bodies, all for about 90 seconds of game time, would be prohibitive. Generally speaking, the fewer murders you commit, the more easily you can smooth things over with the authorities.
- Too much damn luck. I don’t speak for the genesis or motivation behind the Squid Game, but I assume that the idea is to end with the best/strongest contestants. In which case: there’s too much luck involved. Red Light, Green Light is a bloodbath where your neighbour will almost certainly kill you. Honeycomb is just dumb luck (though, now I think of it, if those shapes are associated with a specific Korean children’s game, it seems like it might’ve been quite obvious what you were going to have to do?). Tug-o-war is fine as a test of skill, but your chance of being on a team of duffers is quite high. Marbles, again, dumb luck with the added factor of pitting potentially strong contestants against one another. And the glass stepping stones, most egregiously of all, are really not a game at all but a test of who randomly chooses the 14, 15 and 16 jackets. The games might as well be six rounds of Russian roulette.
- Get rid of Clause III. This one is obvious: allowing contestants to vote on ending the game is a guaranteed lawsuit. I’m not sure it adds any relevant emotional drama to the VIPs or anyone gambling on the event, but astronomically increases your chance of being arrested. And South Korea still has the death penalty, which would be playing on my mind a bit throughout.
- Stop trying to get the contestants to kill each other. First you starve them into a murderous rage with a single boiled egg, and then you leave them each a steak knife. Why are you so desperate that they do your job for you? This is classic low-productivity deferment of responsibility. Each contestant is a valuable commodity and yet dozens are lost to fatal in-fighting. The desire to have them whittle themselves down once again speaks to the fact that you have either too many contestants or too few games. Also, what the fuck was in those eggs that made everyone go completely psycho? Having a boiled egg and a bottle of sparkling water for supper would give me the dull frisson of asceticism, but it wouldn’t make me strangle anyone with a bed-sheet. Thank God The Host put a stop to it: his one piece of good decision making throughout.
- Give the VIPs a bit more emotional context. I really felt like the VIPs would’ve gained a lot, as spectators, if they had known the emotional context of the final game. Two childhood friends having to fight to the death? It’s an incredible money-can’t-buy narrative arc. The Host and Front Man had put so much time and energy into this competition, but seemed entirely focused on the spectacle. Personally, if I were a VIP I would’ve got a lot more out of watching the TV show Squid Game than watching the actual Squid Game. The most damning indictment of the penultimate game was the moment when one of the guests opted for a 5-minute blowjob rather than watching the climax of an event he had presumably paid millions of dollars to watch. That’s the equivalent of a 2* Yelp review.
- Generally improve the viewing experience. We are left to presume that the first four games are broadcast, around the world, to paying subscribers (we do see GoPro style cameras on the guards at times). But given your investment in having circular-orderlies, triangular-soldiers and square-managers, would it not have made sense to also invest in a proper broadcast camera crew? They could be given the rhombus designation, there are plenty of shapes left over (*thinks back to kindergarten*). And once the VIPs arrive, let them get a bit closer to the action for God’s sake. If I’ve paid all that money, I don’t want to watch through opera glasses like some Renaissance peasant. If I’m wearing one of those kinky masks anyway, I want to be right up close to the action; to be able to smell the dirt from the Squid Game arena.
- Kill the final contestant. Look, I appreciate this is a dark note to end on and possibly renders this light-hearted blog even bleaker than the actual show. But you should really be killing the winner. All 456 contestants participate in the game on trust; they don’t need to see a former winner paraded around in gilt-encrusted fineries. They take you at your word, which is enormous credit to your salesmanship. Well done. But letting someone out into the world with a huge amount of information about the many, many murders you’ve done is just a loose end the size of one of those frayed (and damn expensive) tug-o-war ropes. Shake his hand, maybe give him another steak (t-bone, we’re not made of money) and then put him out of his misery. You’ve then plugged a potential leak AND you get to keep the prize money for yourself. Win win.
This is the sort of mentality that I would bring to running the Squid Game and I would like this to be considered an official application should any deranged billionaire choose to re-enact this in real life (and no Mr Beast, there is no such thing as an ‘IRL Squid Game’ if you don’t murder 455 people; otherwise it’s just Takeshi’s Castle).
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