Survival-themed shows and movies have been around for some time with slasher films (Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies), and creature features (think Jaws franchise). But the nightmares that haunted these popular titles were monsters after their lives.
Then there are the dystopian flicks like The Hunger Games trilogy and the chilling Japanese film franchise Battle Royale that forced the hands of characters and threw away whatever moral compass they had to survive their realities or situation.
A cursory glance at Netflix’s most popular shows for the week sees titles such as Alice in Borderland and Squid Game among the top of the most watched.
The latter, in fact, has unseated the fantastical period drama Bridgerton as the most streamed Netflix series of all time upon its launch on 17 September at 111 million views.
What’s common between these two survival shows are the games the characters play. In the live adaptation of the popular manga of the same name, Alice in Borderland, the characters are forced to play card games in a parallel world set in Tokyo. The Korean drama, on the other hand, took over a decade of writing before Hwang Dong-hyuk’s reimagination of childhood games turned deadly became a reality at Netflix.
What do the popularity of these shows say? Psychologists have weighed in. The online American women’s magazine, Bustle, interviewed a handful of behavior specialists and psychologists in the 13 October article titled “The Psychological Reason You’re Obsessed with Squid Game.”
The website of Psychology Today has three related literature about the popularity of the South Korean drama.
Most of them highlighted that the show is a social commentary on capitalism and financial inequality further exacerbated by the pandemic.
“The social message about wealth disparity and privilege is loud and clear. It is also unsettling and violent, a kind of Hunger Games meets Battle Royale meets Lord of the Flies that continually pits humanity against survival, captures the current social distress, and perfectly targets the nihilist humor of Gen Z,” wrote Pamela B. Rutledge, Ph.D., MBA on Psychology Today.
Bence Nanay, Ph.D., stressed two “psychological twists” that make the show more digestible for a global audience. One, he says, enables viewers to identify with the characters, not just with their plight, but as well as indulge in some sort of voyeuristic tendencies. The second aspect is that the show banks on the popularity of Korean shows all over the world.
As of this writing, Squid Game remains on the daily and weekly Top 10 most streamed shows of Netflix.
With the pandemic still raging and issues tackled in the show relatable in a way, it looks like it is going to stay there for a couple more weeks until the premiere of another, maybe, Korean drama with a similar effect.
KathNiel films get Bollywood adaptation
The tandem of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla is undoubtedly popular even if the duo more known as KathNiel has yet to return to primetime. Their 2015 remake of the drama with the same title Pangako Sa’Yo with the international title The Promise is consistently on the top 10 of Netflix Philippines’ most popular shows.
Their movies uploaded in Star Cinema’s YouTube channel are viewed by millions.
The latest news of KathNiel’s popularity involves five of their movies being opted for adaptations in India.
They are Barcelona: A Love Untold, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Crazy Beautiful You, She’s Dating The Gangster, and The Hows Of Us.
Nothing much has been written or known about the deal except that it will be held by India’s Global One Studios.
It will be curious to know who among India’s most popular stars will do the adaptation and how much of the original storyline will be altered to suit local cultural references.