Squid Game, Money Heist and Lupin are three dramatically different shows, and yet there are some conspicuous parallels. Might these similarities be part of the formula to their global appeal?
It’s All About the Money
All three series center around the quest for a gargantuan prize purse. Both Money Heist and Lupin are about master thieves pulling epic heists. Both shows also have a comparable structure to their storytelling too. Invariably, things are not what they seem, and just when the thieves look like they might fail, there’s a twist that reveals it was a preplanned deception. When such a ploy plays out, there’s a flashback to the planning of the ruse. This narrative device showcases the cleverness of the heroes and their abilities to predict outcomes.
Consequently, much of the dynamic tension relies on a psychological chess game between the criminal masterminds and those who would bust them. In Lupin, it’s Diop versus Pelligrini (Hervé Pierre). In Money Heist, it’s the Professor (Álvaro Morte) versus Inspector Murillo (Itziar Ituño) and later Inspector Sierra (Najwa Nimri).
Squid Game isn’t about robbery in the same sense, but there’s a still big money prize – a giant piggy bank filled with Korean won. Nevertheless, the big payout is the overarching motivation for the game players, just like it is for the thieves of Money Heist and Lupin. All the characters in the three shows have bottomed out, forcing them into making desperate choices. They get trapped into extreme situations, however they got there by their own free will. They’re all betting their lives in hopes of cashing in on a huge jackpot.
All three shows center around criminals and losers, so none of them are the best parental role models. Squid Game’s Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) is the epitome of a bad dad to his daughter Seong Ga-yeong (Cho Ah-in), gambling away her birthday money and trying to win her a present at an arcade. Lupin’s Diop’s career as a thief puts his son Raoul (Etan Simon) in jeopardy. Raoul’s kidnapping is the Season 1 cliffhanger, and his recovery is the focus of Season 2. Both Seong and Diop aspire to be good dads, but they fail.
Money Heist is a little more complicated when it comes to parental roles. There are several parent-child relationships in the show, each with its own unique complexities. While most of them serve to set up some sympathy for the plight of the characters, when you step back and look at it, they all make bad parental choices.