‘The 8 Show’ Review: A Satirical Take On Reality Television Shows That Falls Flath

There are plenty of reality television shows that Netflix produces and they are going global by coming out with reality television shows in many languages. Amidst all of this is Netflix Korea, which is churning out many shows in the reality television genre. Squid Game is the most popular of the lot, and that drew the attention of the world towards Korean culture rather than the world-class cinema the makers of the country churned out. Single’s Inferno, Physical: 100, Squid Game: The Challenge, The Devil’s Plan, Love after Divorce, and Love Naggers are some of the Netflix Korean reality shows. While some are good, others are abysmal. Clubbing elements of all these reality television shows together, Han Jae-rim brings The 8 Show, a brand new Netflix Korea original show that was released on May 17, 2024. 

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The 8 Show is an eight-episode-long show with a runtime of 35 to 40 minutes each episode. The show is about a bunch of lonely men and women who are lured into a house under the premise they can just do nothing, and they’ll earn money by the minute. The protagonist, Bae Jin-su, is a poor man in debt and has loan sharks after him to repay the money. He comes across a message that takes him to a home that is fake from top to bottom. Several men and women join him in the house in no time. Initially, they believe they have all the money that could solve their problems, but soon, everyone realizes that the time allotted to them needs to be saved and used judiciously. They also needed to increase it as the end of the game would mean the end of the earnings. As they find ways to keep themselves active for the sake of time, the friction among the eight people begins to erupt, just like in any other reality television show. Does everyone turn against each other, or does one of them become the team leader and begin to dominate the others?

The whole idea of this television show is to deliver a satirical take on all the reality shows that involve many participants whose goal is to make money and survive till the end. The show takes this element and presents something which is filled with dark humor and manages to make fun of reality television, which includes instances of throwing tantrums for the attention of the audience, which will increase their visibility on social media and remain relevant. There is always an obnoxious character that generates maximum conversation, and the writers have introduced people just like that. The biggest drawback of the show is the screenplay, which is a drag fest. Even though the premise is excellent, the director and writer spend a lot of time establishing the same concept again and again, and they start beating around the bush. Each episode is dedicated to eight characters, living on each floor, but soon the show becomes a snooze fest as it takes too much time to establish the intentions of each character.

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The messaging of The 8 Show is pretty evident as the show progressively talks about class differences, the overwhelming presence of capitalism in society, and the rush to make money to survive.  All of these come together to form a frankly uninteresting show. The makers probably wanted to mirror the actual reality shows that are snooze fest, but the satire in the screenplay does not come across well. The subplot about the set being fake is a brilliant take on how everything about every reality TV show is inherently a sham, including the bodies of the contestants that take part in it. But sadly, the overwhelming and stretched nature of the screenplay was a burden which could not save the show. The long runtime of the show does not add to the intrigue, and there is no sense of urgency leading up to the end. Even though the climax is surprisingly good, the show’s snail pace does not allow it to generate enough excitement. 

The direction, in the beginning, was interesting, which made it seem like the show would be presented in the old-school style of filmmaking; sadly, that style vanished into thin air just a half an hour into the show. It is interesting to watch how these characters were built up, though. All of them had interesting arcs, including Bae Jin-su, whose voiceover gave the audience a wonderful insight into what was happening and who could be trusted as the show moved forward. Adding on the voiceover helps to an extent, but it does not shoulder the show completely because of the slow narrative. The 8 Show would have been interesting if the makers had spent time making the screenplay tighter and reduced the runtime of each episode. The production design, however, is excellent and gels with the theme and the plotline of the show. 

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The performances in the show are just above average, thanks to some poor writing. The character development worked only in parts. Chun Woo-Hee as Se Ra is excellent as the spoiled brat who is in denial about the rules and regulations and hopes to rule just because she claims to be rich. Overall, The 8 Show is a tiring watch, and it falls flat very early. 


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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