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Netflix just released a new dystopian thriller that fans of Squid Game will love

Published May 17th, 2024 2:29PM EDT
The 8 Show on Netflix
Image: Lee Jae-hyuk/Netflix

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Tell me if this sounds familiar: A Netflix Korean drama gathers a group of strangers together to take part in a contest for money. The contestants are generally down on their luck and locked inside a mysterious building. This is not Squid Game, though; this is actually an all-new K-drama, The 8 Show, which the streamer released today and which was clearly inspired by the Korean hit built around childhood games that’s rumored to be coming back in December.

The new show is based on two Naver webtoons — Money Game and its sequel Pie Game, both written by Bae Jin-soo. It’s hard to watch the series, though, and not be reminded of that other “Game,” given what The 8 Show is clearly trying to say about capitalism and consumer culture.

I’ll admit, though, this is kind of an odd show to try and sum up. The 8 Show’s contestants, for example, are thrown into a locked building where the longer they stay, the more money they make. In fact, they’re meant to try and earn as much money as possible while a massive countdown clock keeps ticking — and here’s where it gets a little weird: 

To stay longer, they have to keep adding time to the clock by figuring out all the hidden rules of the game.

Oh, and everyone doesn’t have an equal shot at the money, either, which is one area where The 8 Show radically departs from Squid Game (which was all about a kind of primitive but violent fairness). Here, the show keeps exacerbating social disparities among the contestants and then watching how they cope with the pressure that’s steadily ratcheting up among them.

Inevitably, they begin to turn on each other — which puts them in potential conflict with one of the rules of The 8 Show: If any dies, or gets killed, no one gets any money. That prohibition on violence, though, doesn’t make the show necessarily easier to stomach. In fact, by the time it’s all over, you might find yourself watching parts of the show as you nervously peek through your fingers.

All that said, however, I absolutely love what I’ve seen of this dystopian Korean thriller so far and feel like Netflix may have another global smash hit on its hands.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.