Is Netflix’s “Squid Game” So Popular Due to Debt Anxiety?

“Squid Game” is the most popular show in Netflix history.

The bloody South Korean show details characters in debt who are willing to risk their lives for a better financial future.

The series resonated around the world, exploiting growing economic fears and concerns about debt.

Personal debt in the United States has become a political issue for the Biden administration as lawmakers continue to push for some form of cancellation of student loans, which now stand at around $ 1.73 trillion.

Q: Is the “Squid Game” so popular because of debt anxiety?

Norm Miller, University of San Diego

NO: “Squid Game ”seems popular for the same reason as“ The Hunger Games ”, ie it is an extreme competition with the ultimate prize for losing, and in the context of what people would do to survive? The use of debt anxiety is simply to make it accessible to many troubled viewers. Not having seen the show, I suspect other likely intrigues like capitalism versus work, or other “injustices” where we can all take sides as young people compete in a sometimes unfair world.

Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions

NO: While this can be an interesting aspect of the series, it is not the main reason for its popularity. Consumer behavior is motivated by psychological, personal and social factors. Humans are often influenced by the behaviors and choices of others. Word of mouth, news headlines, and hashtags or memes on social media spark curiosity and the desire to be “in the know”. The ability to easily replicate TikTok and Instagram worthy games / challenges from the show is also helping to go viral.

David Ely, San Diego State University

YES: Since all the participants in “Squid Game” share the common circumstance of being heavily in debt, this factor surely contributes to the popularity of the series. Anxiety about paying off debts, the absence of good ways to escape the debt burden, a sense of societal injustice and the dangers of interacting with non-traditional lenders are all dimensions of debt present in series and with which the public can relate. .

Ray Major, SANDAG

Do not participate this week.

Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University

YES: Shows that offer gripping drama and a personal connection often resonate well. “Squid Game” clicks on both fronts. While South Korea’s obscure lending practices are not prevalent in the United States, many are struggling with the debt burden. Only mortgage loans now exceed student debt. Last year, the average student graduated with about $ 30,000 in student loans. While the program also reflects extremes of social power, indebtedness, especially for those under 40, remains a constant concern.

Reginald Jones, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

YES: Economic insecurity impairs decision making. The mindset that comes with needing money to meet basic obligations or pay off debts can lead to unwanted behavior. Many households are now vulnerable, especially minorities. PolicyLink data suggests that two in three households of color cannot support themselves if income is disrupted. Disastrous circumstances lead to mental stress, suicide, destruction of families, and the vice and violence that plague our communities. Push is justified to propel the financial well-being of a greater number of people.

Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research

NO: Most likely popular due to the innovative portrayal of facets of human despair apparently resonating with viewers from multiple cultures. Much like the recent presentations of dystopian conditions in “The Hunger Games” and “Parasite,” the Netflix series portrays suspenseful designs combining the popularity of reality TV, game shows and violence as entertainment. The film’s narrative was conceived over 10 years ago, while the staging of death games has been around since at least the time of the Roman Coliseum.

Phil Blair, Workforce

YES: After watching a few segments of the show, I understand how they play on the level of stress many people, especially young people, feel when balancing work, family and following the Joneses through risky moments. and long. -lots of investments. But that balances out with a large group of people who have been able to increase their net worth through financial supplements and are now leaving the workforce with early retirement, choosing to stay home with their children, or able to. be very selective. about the jobs they are willing to take.

Gary London, London Moeder Advisors

NO: On the contrary, there is less debt, more savings and more spending, at least in our country. The popularity of “Squid Game” stems from its celebration of violence, creating a game of life and death imposed on debt-ridden victims recruited by a wealthy demagogue. Seems familiar? It should be, as it is a fictional account of what is being promoted more cryptically to people socially ostracized by the work of social media plutocrats and lying politicians on the political right.

Alan Gin, University of San Diego

NO: While the debt levels in the United States are high, many people were able to reduce their debts during the pandemic. Those who kept their jobs had few places to spend their money, so some paid off their debts. The show’s popularity is likely due to its quirky premise, including its violent aspects. It’s similar to the popularity of reality TV and conflict-laden talk shows. TV audiences are not a total loss, however, given the popularity of high quality “Queen’s Gambit” over the past year.

Bob Rauch, RA Rauch & Associates

NO: It’s popular because it’s like “The Hunger Games” and plays on the fear of losing your life. Debt anxiety appears to be much more prevalent in South Korea than in the United States. Here, loans from the government’s Repayment Protection Program and very liberal policies on student debt repayment, no evictions, unemployment bonuses, child care credits and more have made it possible for most citizens to have cash.

James Hamilton, UC San Diego

Do not participate this week.

Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth

NO: The popularity of “Squid Game” stems from several overlapping trends: violent (genre) game-centric thrillers; (Societal) abuse of disadvantaged citizens and lack of treatment for drug addiction; and (Global responsiveness) increasing openness to foreign content. South Korea has been producing fantastic content for years, but only recently gained recognition in the United States. The show’s premise is appealing because of its chilling plausibility and commentary on how we treat certain members of our society.

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

NO: While the show resonates with some for personal reasons, I think it’s just a well-done show from a USC film graduate. Debt anxiety doesn’t exist because of a spectacle – it exists because we have authorized bad loans to those who are unable to repay them. This is reminiscent of the no deposit home loans that went wrong in the not-so-distant past. I just hope that the debt the United States plans to increase doesn’t do the same for our country.

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