Squid Game Creator Thinks The Pandemic Helped Get The Show Picked Up

"Squid Game" writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk knows one thing for sure: sometimes a good idea has to percolate a while before the people are ready for it. That was certainly the case for his violent series, in which contestants engage in deadly versions of schoolyard games for the chance to win cold hard cash — all for the entertainment of elites. 

The concept (and its candy-colored execution) have made "Squid Game" a massive hit for Netflix, whichannounced that it had the streaming service's largest series launch ever (albeit according to shady numbers that don't reflect useful engagement nuances, like how many viewers are finishing the series to the end, for example.) This week, the streaming service also dubbed "Squid Game" its most popular series of all time with 1.65 billion viewing hours logged,. It's a hefty feat for a nine-episode show only a few weeks after its September 17 launch. But it wasn't always honeycombs and marbles; there was a waiting game for Hwang.

"Squid Game" was conceived in 2008 and originally intended for the big screen, but it took over a decade for Hwang to find support for it. Speaking through an interpreter, Hwang tells The Hollywood Reporter how the changing global landscape has helped the show's concept gain credibility:

"The response that I got after 10 years was that it was, in fact, very realistic — that there are probably people playing this game somewhere in the world, and I think the pandemic also accelerated the situation a bit as well. And so the fact that this story was no longer not realistic, that it was no longer absurd, but that it was something that was very in touch with reality after a decade, it saddened me a little bit as a person, but it also brought me joy as a creator."

Sadly, the Concept of Squid Game is More Believable Now

Hwang ("The Fortress") realized over time that as the wealth gap widened and climate change added a layer of dire mortality to modern life, the concept of "Squid Game" — in which desperate citizens lost in the system gamble their lives for money — seemed less and less fantastical. Once cryptocurrency appeared and people's lives potentially changed in days, it made more sense that these game contestants would be willing enough to play. He tells THR:

"[It's] almost like a lottery now — almost like a gamble where people in reality have actually doubled or really increased their wealth overnight. And I feel like the world is gradually moving toward dystopia. There are more and more people who really don't dream about the future, and that drives people to want to gamble, to really take it all and put it all on the line and hope for the best. And I think these changes have created an environment where the idea of people putting their life on the line playing children's games is no longer something that is too absurd."

"Squid Game" season 1 is available now on Netflix.