Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ proves that Americans will watch foreign language films and TV shows

Netflix logo is displayed during the 'Paris Games Week' on November 02, 2017 in Paris, France. Netflix is an American company offering streaming movies and TV series on the Internet. 'Paris Games Week' is an international trade fair for video games and runs from November 01 to November 5, 2017. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images) (Chesnot, 2017 Chesnot)

If you’ve been on social media the past few days, then you’ve more than likely heard about the new TV show that people are binging on Netflix: “Squid Game.”

The drama-turned-horror TV program has quickly become one of Netflix’s most popular shows, going straight to the top, alongside other original programming like “Bridgerton” and “Making A Murderer.”

You can’t go anywhere on the internet without seeing a new meme pop out, related to the show. It has fully entered the pop culture discourse.

What makes “Squid Game” stand out from the others is that it’s a Korean TV show, so you have to watch it with dubbed-over English or with subtitles.

Of course, the experience is a little jarring, but anyone who has watched a foreign language film will tell you -- you get over reading subtitles really quickly, as long as the story is good.

And the storyline in “Squid Game” is pretty excellent.

The show follows a group of people who are desperate for money. They have medical bills they need to pay or want to create a better life for their children. When they find out they can win buckets of money by playing school yard games, they’re all in.

It wouldn’t be a Netflix show without a big twist, and although the twist is horrifying and shocking, it says a lot about our society today. The exploitation of the poor by the rich; socioeconomic differences; and what we value as entertainment are all explored in the series.

Does that sounds like another Korean film that became wildly popular in the U.S.? If you’re thinking of the 2020 Best Picture winner, “Parasite,” then you’re correct.

The themes that run throughout “Parasite” and “Squid Game” are very similar, but what is most fascinating is how popular they got here in the U.S.

Despite having to read subtitles, it didn’t stop viewers from wanting to watch something entertaining, which should be a huge wakeup call for Hollywood. The Oscars have been around for decades, yet “Parasite” was the first foreign language film to take home the top prize of the night.

Sure, it helped that “Parasite” was phenomenal, but just imagine if Hollywood had pushed other foreign language films from other countries. What other movies are out there that are wonderful, but we just haven’t been exposed to them?

The same can be said about TV shows.

Luckily, Netflix already does have a pretty large library of foreign language TV shows and movies that are readily available. There is “Elite,” which is like if “Gossip Girl” happened in Spain, the mystery/thriller “Lupin” from France, and “Cable Girls,” another TV show from Spain, just to name a few.

At this point, there is no excuse for Hollywood to ignore foreign language movies and TV shows. The proof is all here that people will watch something in a different language, as long as it’s compelling and entertaining.

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.