‘The 8 Show’ Is Not A Real Reality Show, But It Sure Feels Like One

By Louie Fecou
Published: May 20, 2024
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The 8 Show Reality Game Rules and Real Inspiration
The 8 Show | Image via Netflix

Mean-spirited, juvenile satirical thriller The 8 Show is another slice of reality show weirdness to feel oddly realistic and plausible, despite its occasional lurch into Squid Game territory.

For decades, we have been drip-fed reality TV programming, and I use the term quite literally — that which mixes reality with fantasy, blurring the lines between the everyday and speculative, high-concept fiction. Where The 8 Show works is in not feeling especially far removed from something we might see on… well, on Netflix.

The Rules of  the Fictional Reality Show

The basics of The 8 Show are as you would expect. Financially challenged contestants participate in the show to win a share of life-changing money.

Players receive a rule book they must adhere to, and a room to stay in. The more time players spend in the game, the more money they earn. They get free food and shelter and anything else they want they can pay for at a hugely inflated price that comes out of their prize money.

Stuff contestants order stays in their room and they must also be in the room between midnight and 8 am. After that, it becomes a bit convoluted.

Players are ranked without them knowing before the start of the game. It results in a hierarchy being introduced to the environment, with the player in 1F earning 10 thousand won a minute. 2F earns 20 thousand a minute,  3F earns 30 thousand, and so on. The prior two floors’ earnings a minute are added together for the next floor, so by the end, 8F makes 340 thousand won a minute in a bizarre Fibonacci pattern.

Players at the top have more money than the saps at the bottom, and the more time you spend in the game, the more you earn, and when the realization of the manipulated hierarchy becomes clear, players devise various ways to earn more time, earn more money, and hopefully win the game.

Since entertainment is the goal, there is an audience out there watching, and players start to develop ways to entertain the audience while adding extra time. What they eventually deem as entertainment is where the darkly grotesque inner recesses of human nature kick in, and events begin to spiral into madness and desperation.

Is It Real?

No, why? Do you want it to be real?

Since the so-called social experiment turned madman’s arena Big Brother premiered on TV, we have been obsessed with placing people into rooms surrounded by cameras and watching them perform for us, and when that becomes boring, we put some challenges in there, like carrots on sticks, and then sit back to watch the carefully edited highlights on a nightly basis.

Take that concept, follow the zeitgeist, see what the great viewing public wants, and go again. Make them date each other on islands, make them communicate solely through a social media app, and gasp as they catfish each other into insanity. Put them in an underground mine on treadmills until they drop, throw them on a desert island and see if they survive, or make them work in a kitchen in the hope of getting a job that’s probably just another trap in its own right.

Is it real? No, The 8 Show is a fantasy, based on a true story.

Comparisons to Squid Game

It’s easy to see why the comparison is made, but The 8 Show and Squid Game are quite different.

Tonally, The 8 Show works best as a satire on reality TV, while Squid Game, let’s face it, was at its best when we got to see who survived. The 8 Show is more satirical, enjoying its sideways smirk at reality TV, and winking at the viewer when something insane happens. The smaller cast sets it apart from Squid Game, and you get the feeling that you never really know the participants in the game’s eight floors.

It all harkens back to the time when Roman Emperors would happily throw peasants to the lions in the name of entertainment, something TV still delights in to this day.


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