I can't say that Squid Game was a complete waste of time because at the very least it was a social exercise the way I watched it with friends in Boston, but it’s pretty damn close to one. As a result, this is less of a review than it is a reminder (an emotional one, as I realized after writing it) so that I don’t forget my grievances, which there are many, when people ask me what’s wrong with the show. It is completely subjective, though, so take it however you will.

  1. Main character is stupid. He is not exceptionally bright. In fact, he makes more missteps than most other participants. His kindness, which is nonexistent in the real world but somehow overflowing in the game, is not only fake, but also dumb. When has he ever come up with something original that solved a problem?

  2. Main character is a bad person. He is a bad father. He is a bad son. He constantly disposes of promises he made to his daughter. Even at the end of the show when everything clears up, he flakes on her again. The audacity! He gambles away his money and even takes money from his frail, sickly mother to gamble, and he dares to argue. The audacity! No sir you are beyond justification, you are as hopeless as a rock at the bottom of the Mariana Trench because god knows at least a rock on top of a mountain would have potential. When in the show has he ever shown care towards his mother, despite the old lady having to feed her ungrateful son even when he's a grown-ass man? How does he think that makes her feel?

  3. Because of 1, he does not deserve to survive. It is a battle royale. May the fittest survive. Producers, you can’t have him mock the game that you designed like that. At which point in the show is the main character not carried by his teammates? Never. At no point. Come on, maybe realism is not the objective here, but I truly have not seen any battle royale that has the most incompetent surviving. Darwin would be sitting up from his grave.

  4. Because of 2, he cannot claim the moral high ground to criticize his friend. His morality is murkier than Trump after his golden shower in the Ritz Carlton Moscow. He blames his friend, who mind you is a part of the team that carried him all the way through, when he is just as complicit in the death of other participants. How does he think he lived? His friend gave him life, but who gave him the audacity? Promising the girl to take care of her brother and then going MIA for months? What kind of trauma the kid must have sustained I cannot imagine. Moreover, his definition of taking care of him is dumping him, along with a suitcase of money, to his friend’s mother? How convenient, just how convenient! Marvelously convenient! More convenient than the 7-Eleven down the street is convenient. Maybe instead of gambling he should’ve been a matchmaker. He seems awfully good at that job.

  5. The down-with-capitalism vengeance just does not work. The participants chose this life. They are hardly paragons of virtue before entering the game. Maybe if more of the main character’s experiences were shown it would be different but for all we care about he is an irresponsible prick who lost everything gambling. And as everything has taught everyone growing up everywhere, including the warning from Uncut Gems, gambling bad. He willingly, knowingly chose this life when he was given a choice to continue his participation in the game. His inability to resist whatever temptation was completely a fault of his own. And now what, he's got blood on his hands. Oh no, he cannot believe how it got there — it mustn't be his fault, certainly not! Someone must have smudged the blood onto him! It must have been capitalism! It must be other people! How dare they taint his precious moral superiority, the only personality trait he has! The desire to topple the game is a selfish one, no matter how much he wants to mask it in righteousness, which, no matter what he wants to believe, he has none.

You know, maybe that’s why the main character went back to the game: because he's nothing in the real world, but in the game, he got to be a plot-armored royalty. He fucked his own life up. What he needed to do was stop finding excuses for himself and stop feeling sorry for himself. It would serve him right to realize that no one, not a single audience member, ever will feel sorry for the fate that he brought upon himself. Sure, there is a point to be made about the capitalism-entrenched society as the underlying cause to all this, but making the main character some resistance figure representing Communist International ranges from self-aggrandizing to downright absurd.

Other than that, I guess the dramatization makes sense. It still does not break free from the lethargy that most battle royales suffer from — in the second half of the show, where it struggles to maintain the element of surprise and progress the conflict — either what’s at stake needs to upgrade or the environment needs to continue expanding. In this regard, neither Alice in Borderland nor Squid Game are exempt.

My friend responded to my rant saying that the show has nuance. To that, I said that nuances do not matter if the whole thing never made any sense to begin with, if all that we have to work with are a fragmented plot and character motivations that are nothing but convenience. Parasite had nuance and responded to societal trends in a more accurate and skillful fashion, but Squid Game is no Parasite. Or maybe it’s a virus, because what I do not understand the most about the show is the virality surrounding it. Could people not tell this is amateurishly bad? Maybe the producers did not expect the level of success, but please, to people trying to attach a moral statement to or discover some value proposition in the show, it did not invent anti-capitalism, no thank you.