Movie Review

'The 8 Show' On Netflix Review: A Satirical Take On The Harsh Realities Of Today's Capitalist Society

Outlook Rating:
3 / 5

Netflix is here with its latest K-Drama. Titled 'The 8 Show,' is the dark comedy worth your time, or can you skip it? Read on to find out.

'The 8 Show' Photo: Netflix

In recent years, South Korean shows have been discussing how capitalism works in their country. From class disparities to the lengths people go to in order to lead a decent life, these productions tackle the agony of the system with creativity. Netflix’s latest K-Drama, ‘The 8 Show,’ addresses the same concept. Based on the webtoons ‘Money Game’ and ‘Pie Game’ by Bae Jin-soo, ‘The 8 Show’ is a dark comedy where eight complete strangers participate in a progressively more extreme game to win hefty money. So, in case you’re planning to give this K-Drama a watch, here’s all you must know about it.

‘The 8 Show’: Story

‘The 8 Show’ tells the story of eight people who are trapped in a secret space, away from the world. Although complete strangers, they are connected by their shared love for money. The place has eight rooms, one for each person, connected by a zigzagging staircase and, oddly, a chute. Each room has a counter showing their prize money, which grows each minute, literally, as well as a phone they can use to buy things, but at 100 times the market rate. The catch is that they are surrounded by cameras at all angles and have to engage in entertaining yet dangerous games for an unknown audience to earn money. The more fun the games are, the more money they can earn. Luck, effort, and at times, cheating determine the prize money, and breaking the rules means losing half of it. Oh, and if anyone dies, they all lose. In simple words: the longer they can last in the game, the more money they will win.

‘The 8 Show’: Performances

Even though there are eight characters who have an equal part to play in the game, the story’s main protagonist is Ryu Jun-yeol. We come to understand the events happening through his perspective. Once you’re engrossed in his life and coming to terms with the fact that he wants to die, you won’t even realize when the show progresses and we are introduced to the other seven characters, rather, participants.

While Ryu Jun-yeol dominated as the lead role, he had various moments to leave a mark. His complex persona was oscillating, and while he did portray his confusion well, there were some scenes that just felt exaggerated. Park Jeong-min as the brain of the group was one of the most standout characters. He demonstrated that he would do anything to survive, even if it goes against his morals. When it comes to the male characters, Park Hae-joon took on the annoying role extremely well. While he did use his power, strength, and violent nature to get his way, you couldn’t help but praise how great of a villain he was and how he brought in all the tension to the storyline. Bae Seong-woo, on the other hand, ignited a rollercoaster of emotions with his acting. His nuanced acting added depth and complexity, leaving a lasting impression.

Coming to the females, Chun Woo-hee’s unpredictable and free-spirited nature makes for a love-or-hate performance. Her confident and lively attitude was refreshing compared to the usual characters that we witnessed. Moon Jeong-hee is just an advocate for peace and wants everyone to get along with each other. But, the level of intensity of the game leaves her spiralling, and because of that, her emotions have really shone through. Lee Zoo-young has done her part as the most reasonable character. She really is fierce and angry, and despite the cold-hearted layer, her desperation was evident. Lastly, Lee Yul-eum is both charming and down-to-earth. She was versatile and often acted like a chameleon, trying to fit into different situations, whatever suited her.

‘The 8 Show’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

While I haven’t read the novel versions of the show, I can’t comment on how faithful an adaptation it serves to be. Even though Han Jae-rim has made sure to delve into the psychology of his characters, he seems to have forgotten to deeply explore them. A bit more depth into the characters’ back stories would have served as an explanation as to why they’re risking their lives, their dignity, and to what lengths they’re really willing to go; they have come off as underdeveloped.

In the first half of the show, we see how the characters interact with each other, figuring out the rules of the game little by little, and we, along with them. It adds to the fun because nobody really knows what’s going on, making it difficult to predict what will happen next. The second half really takes it up a notch and gets even more intense with mind games, violence, and secrets. However, after a while, the violence starts to feel repetitive and adds no meaning to the overall narrative. Also, some parts remind you of ‘Squid Game,’ such as the violent games that are supposed to be harmless, uniforms, and the annoyingly colourful set.

Coming to the visuals, it’s the best part of the entire show. The idea of introducing each character at the start of all episodes on a red carpet in a grainy and half-screen format really captivated me. The cinematography effectively conveyed the claustrophobic and high-stakes atmosphere and did its job to heighten the tension. Even the editing is crisp. At no point in time will you want to skip ahead, and the cuts have been clean. The decision of the makers to keep this a limited series and not extend it for too long was a wonderful choice. They didn’t let the show get boring. Additionally, the music choice is remarkable, and the compositions really enhance the much-needed tension.

Overall, Han Jae-rim, as a director, has brought up important themes and social commentary through the games in the show. Despite its perks, the show is an accurate representation of how people act when they find themselves in tough scenarios, which seem like they would be impossible to get out of. It’s a smart way to show how people can change when they are faced with difficult situations in a society that’s all about making money. The show is a perfect example of depicting that people might do things they never thought they were capable of when push comes to shove.


‘The 8 Show’: Cast & Crew

Director: Han Jae-rim

Cast: Ryu Jun-yeol, Chun Woo-hee, Park Jeong-min, Lee Yul-eum, Park Hae-joon, Lee Zoo-young, Moon Jeong-hee, and Bae Seong-woo

Available On: Netflix  

Duration: 8 episodes, approx 55 mins each        

Premiere Date: May 17, 2024

Genre: Dark Comedy, Thriller

Language: Korean

‘The 8 Show’: Can Kids Watch It?


Outlook’s Verdict

The show is not everyone’s cup of tea. While the sadistic cruelty and violence make it difficult and almost sad to watch, what hooks you are the protagonists. ‘The 8 Show’ presents an intriguing premise with its dark comedy take on the struggles of economic disparities and human nature. Despite a few drawbacks here and there, the show delivers a tense and engaging viewing experience. All in all, it makes for a great binge-watch for the weekend.