“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” Parasite director Bong Joon-ho said in early 2020. It took a while, but the world is finally listening.
Squid Game came seemingly out of nowhere and started a global frenzy. Arriving on Netflix on 17 September with little fanfare, the series quickly grew in popularity due to word of mouth. Soon, it became the most watched Netflix title in multiple markets, including the UK.
It’s easy to figure out why. Squid Game may be a high concept series about deadly games that pit regular people against each other, but the focus is on the characters throughout. The games are intentionally simple so viewers don’t have to worry about understanding the rules. Instead, they can pay attention to what the desperate contestants are going through. It sneaks in thought-provoking social commentary, delivers intriguing twists and is simultaneously horrifying and compelling.
So much so that, once you finish your binge-watch, you might start looking for something similar to fill the sudden void in your heart. Fear not – while there isn’t anything exactly like Squid Game out there, these 10 shows manage to embody at least one of the South Korean drama’s many qualities.
1. Alice in Borderland
Cast: Kento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya, Keita Machida, Yûki Morinaga
A group of people are transported to a parallel version of Tokyo in which they must compete in deadly games in order to survive. Sound familiar? Intense and brutal, Alice in Borderland is just as addictive as Squid Game. We highly recommend clearing your schedule before tuning in.
- Watch Alice in Borderland on Netflix
Cast: Bianca Comparato, Vaneza Oliveira, Rodolfo Valente, Zezé Motta
A post-apocalyptic thriller, 3% is set in the future, when most of the population lives in poverty. However, every year people get a chance to compete for the opportunity to move to the Offshore, a paradise where only the elite reside. They have to go through a series of tests and only 3% succeed. Will your favourite make it? Tune in to find out.
3. The Wilds
Cast: Sophia Ali, Shannon Berry, Jenna Clause, Reign Edwards, Mia Healey
The Wilds may not feature any type of games, but the stakes are still high. After a plane crash leaves them stranded on an island, a group of teen girls have to survive their harsh new surroundings. What they don’t know, however, is that they just became the subjects of an elaborate social experiment. If you enjoy Squid Game for the social commentary and character focus, you’ll love this one too.
4. The Purge
Cast: Gabriel Chavarria, Derek Luke, Hannah Emily Anderson, Max Martini
This anthology series is set in the same universe as the Purge movies, where the government sanctions a 12-hour period in which all crimes are legal, including murder. Chaos ensues. The show follows seemingly unconnected characters as they experience the night. Some hide, some seek revenge, some want to have fun. As long as you find the concept appealing, The Purge doesn’t disappoint.
5. Money Heist (La Casa de Papel)
Cast: Úrsula Corberó, Álvaro Morte, Itziar Ituño, Pedro Alonso
Money Heist centres on an unusual group of robbers trying to pull off one of the most ambitious heists in history. They take hostages and lock themselves in the Royal Mint of Spain, hoping to buy enough time to print billions of euros. Surrounded by police, getting out alive isn’t a given. Just as compulsive as Squid Game and just as reliant on red jumpsuits, this thriller/telenovela combo will keep you on the edge of the seat.
- Watch Money Heist on Netflix
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Cast: Nicole Apelian, Dan, David, Justin, Larry
If you love the “stay alive for as long as possible” aspect of Squid Game, here’s a show more grounded in reality. Alone follows several individuals as they struggle to survive alone in the wilderness without having a lot of resources to rely on. Each of them are dropped off in a remote area and have only themselves to rely on. Whoever lasts the longest wins a cash prize. There is no shortage of reality survival series in today’s crowded TV landscape, but this is one of the best.
- Watch Alone on Sky, Virgin TV Go, or Now TV
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Iddo Goldberg, Mickey Sumner, Alison Wright
After the world turns into a frozen wasteland, what’s left of the population embarks on a perpetually-moving train that circles the globe. But just like in life, the poor don’t enjoy the same benefits as the rich, so resentment slowly builds over time to the point where a rebellion might threaten everyone abroad. Immersive and entertaining, the show boasts intriguing storylines and a solid cast. In other words, it’s the perfect Squid Game follow-up.
- Watch Snowpiercer on Netflix
8. Sweet Home
Cast: Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young, Lee Do-hyun
Another South Korean show with a fabulous premise, Sweet Home falls under the horror genre, but that doesn’t make it any less fascinating. In fact, if you love Squid Game‘s gore, prepare to level up. As humans begin to turn into monsters, a teenager and his neighbours fight to survive and hold on to their humanity. Spoiler alert: the show is insane, but in the best way possible.
- Watch Sweet Home on Netflix
Cast: Olivia Welch, Mike Faist, Jessica Sula, Ray Nicholson
In a small Texas town, graduating seniors compete in a series of dangerous dares in the hopes of winning a cash prize that would help them escape their dire circumstances. But just how far are they willing to go, especially as 2 kids previously died attempting these challenges? With fun characters and a “don’t try this at home” vibe, Panic is a teen drama that keeps you guessing.
Cast: Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly
After a plane crashes on an island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean, the stranded survivors must work together… unless they want to die alone. However, as they explore their new home, they stumble upon many mysteries and realise there might be other people lurking in the shadows. A huge hit that ran for 6 seasons, Lost successfully combines sci-fi elements with human drama. You’ll be in for a memorable ride.