Is The 8 Show Based on a Real Reality Series?

Netflix’s ‘The 8 Show’ presents an ugly face of the world through an elaborately crafted TV series. The story begins with a young man owing a lot of money to the sharks after falling for a scam. He is in so much debt that he knows he is never going to get out of it, no matter how much he works his entire life. With no way out of his predicament, suicide seems like the only thing he can do to save himself. But then, a lifeboat is thrown at him. At first, it feels like an opportunity to make easy money, but soon, all the strings attached come into the picture.

What unfolds over the course of eight episodes is shocking and sickening, but what makes it worse is that the audience knows how close it is to real life, which is what makes the story all the more impactful. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Fictional 8 Show is a Critique of the Society We Live In

‘The 8 Show’ is a fictional game created by writer-director Han Jae-rim, who combined two webtoons by Bae Jin-soo to create a story that hits all close to home. He had read ‘Money Game’ and ‘Pie Game’ separately, but when it came to adapting them, he realized that they worked much better in tandem. One of the stories was about a survival game, which is usually associated with the fact that the participant has to do whatever it takes to win, even if it means harming someone.

After reading ‘Pie Game,’ the director discovered that he could make things more interesting by placing a restriction on the participants. What if they were free to do whatever it took to save themselves, but they couldn’t kill anyone? A person’s death in the game would mean the end of the game for everyone. This spiced things up because it meant that the participants would have to work together. It might sound easy, but as we see in the show, it is much more difficult than just killing someone and moving on.

The “no killing allowed” rule started as just a way to test the limits of the storytelling but it soon evolved into something much more, even ending up defining the genre of the show. It turned into a tragicomedy where things got darker the more relatable they felt to the audience, and Jae-rim made sure the audience saw themselves in the characters by making them all vulnerable and yet open to the fact that they would exploit the other if they had the upper hand in the situation. He called it a “tragic story of those who try to make a lot of money by accumulating time somehow.”

The more the story was developed, the more it started resembling the real world. The floor system represented the class system in the society and the choosing of the cards at the beginning of the game showed that no one was in control of what class they were assigned at birth. It was a completely random thing to have happened to a person, where some were luckier than others. The story also focuses on how the lower classes are made to think that they need to put in more work to earn more money, even though the scales are categorically stacked against them. No matter what they do, they can never really escape the floor they are in. Even though it is made to seem like with enough hard work, time, and money, they can change their situation, it all turns out to be a false narrative in the end.

The show also cleverly uses time as a plot device, throwing shade on how the people working the most hours are usually the ones who earn the least, while the ones with the most money are generally the ones who don’t have to put in as much work. With every episode, the show delves into a different but familiar aspect of society, and with each step, the story resonates even more with the audience. Jae-rim tried to fit in as much social critique as he possibly could in the TV show, and it goes to show how much the Netflix series, despite being fictional, reflects the real state of society and its people.

Read More: The 8 Show: Where is the Netflix Series Filmed?