Is Netflix's Newest K-Drama of 2024, The 8 Show, Actually Worth Watching?

Is Netflix's Newest K-Drama of 2024, The 8 Show, Actually Worth Watching?
Image credit: Netflix

Squid Game's successor or its mediocre knock-off?


  • On May 17, 2024, a new K-drama was released on Netflix.
  • It's a black comedy that, like Squid Game, satirizes variety and reality shows.
  • The series has received moderate reviews but has high ratings.

Variety and reality shows are extremely popular in South Korea, so it's not surprising that they provide the artistic framework for movies and TV series that criticize the consumerist attitudes toward the contestants of such shows and Korean life in general. And so, as we await the second season of Squid Game, a new K-drama was released on Netflix, also based on a mysterious game in which a motley crew of participants are thrown together.

In less than a week, the new South Korean series has managed to break into the Global Top 10 and has received some pretty warm reviews from critics and viewers alike. Without further ado, let's take a look at what this series is all about and if it's really worth watching.

What Is This New TV Series?

We're talking about The 8 Show series, which landed in the Netflix library on May 17, 2024. The series is an adaptation of two very popular Naver webtoons, Money Game and Pie Game, written by Bae Jin-soo and directed and written by none other than Han Jae-rim, who Korean Wave fans may know from The Show Must Go On, The Face Reader, The King and Emergency Declaration.

The story begins when the narrator of the series, Bae Jin-su (Ryu Jun-yeol), decides to commit suicide. After graduating from a liberal arts college, he lacks any special knowledge or skills, works part-time at low-paying jobs, and is also heavily in debt after a failed investment. One day, just as he is about to end his life, a mysterious limo picks him up and provides him with cash and a key card with the number 3 on it.

Bae Jin-su finds himself in a mysterious, spacious and colorful hallway, stylistically reminiscent of the rooms in Squid Game. Furthermore, the protagonist observes 8 floors, one of which belongs to him.

It turns out that he and others are now members of a mysterious game, whose goal is to survive 100 days in this barren studio, where the purchase of necessities, food and water costs 1000 times more than in the outside world. What does the winner get, you ask? 44.8 billion won (almost $33 million)!

Each of the contestants represents a rather clichéd archetype for the genre, which still works to the show's advantage. Moreover, the dynamics and the hierarchy that builds up between them allude to the way social stratification is constructed in capitalist society. But don't think that the series is much lighter than Squid Game, as the media has characterized it. With each episode, the plot takes a darker turn and the characters find themselves in mortal danger.

Impressive Ratings upon Release

As for the viewers' opinion of the new series, it was not as high as Squid Game's — on Rotten Tomatoes, The 8 Show has a critics score of 60% and an audience score of 59%. In comparison, Squid Game boasts 95% and 84% respectively.

Reddit users, meanwhile, note that the show has a good balance between the gray morality of each character and the possibility of implementing the common good, between irrational actions and logic, and between outright evil and good, which is a great representation of modern society.

At the same time, many noted that while the cruelty in Squid Game has a dramatic meaning, the cruelty in The 8 Show seemed to exist purely for entertainment value, which devalues the original message of the story.

All 8 episodes of The 8 Show are already available to stream on Netflix.