Schoolchildren play the “Squid Game”

The biggest Netflix success to date has influenced the way students play during breaks – often violence. The streaming service has apparently hit a nerve.

Production design from the South Korean series “Squid Game”. © Well Juhan / Netflix / dpa

The Netflix hit “Squid Game” has hit schoolyards. “Teachers have reported that this series is also being re-enacted in their schools,” said the President of the Bavarian Teachers’ Association (BLLV), Simone Fleischmann, on Thursday in Munich of the German Press Agency. Schoolchildren played series or computer games over and over again; that was completely normal. “But that already has a new quality and it causes excitement.”

The South Korean series “Squid Game” is the most successful Netflix production to date with the highest viewership – 111 million in just 27 days. The story of almost 500 people is told in nine episodes, all of whom are deeply in debt. They compete against each other in seemingly harmless children’s games in order to win prize money in the millions. But the macabre competition does not allow a second chance: Those who do not make it to the next round will be killed immediately.

Open social criticism meets zeitgeist

In his home country, “Squid Game” hit the zeitgeist primarily because of its open social criticism. Growing inequality, discrimination against social minorities, extreme pressure to perform: almost all of the country’s major problems are dealt with in the series.

According to media reports, there were already arguments and beatings at schools in Augsburg while the series was being re-enacted. The school office was turned on there.

The Bavarian Ministry of Culture sees the popularity of the series “with concern,” as a spokesman said. She combines “harmless children’s games with massive violence up to and including homicides”. The ministry does not yet know anything about specific follow-up cases – but: “Since schools reflect society, this series is certainly also a topic in the schoolyards.”