Sunday, 20 November 2016

Currently watching: Society Game

This new reality game show, a collaboration between Endemol and TvN, pits two teams against each other for a single cash prize at the end which goes to one person. Each team lives together for twelve days (during which the twelve episodes are recorded, making this a very efficient piece of TV) with one team working as a democracy, while the other is a benign dictatorship. Which will create most harmony?

It’s very addictive, as you might expect from TvN who also gave us The Genius and Crime Scene. Each episode is split between showing us how the players interact in their living quarters and the actual games between the two teams. With moments of levity and a lot of scheming, this part is an essential aspect of the game showing that the power struggles within the team are as important as the struggle between teams.

If a team loses the game, then they have to lose a player and this is decided by the leader at that time.

So we have it all: subterfuge and scheming, games, and all in a reality show setting that is self-contained. No islands or anything messy like that. The cynic in me sees it for what it is: a format designed to make profits in overseas sales. However, I can’t deny it’s my favourite show right now. And that’s down to the contestants.

These have been chosen from a wide range of backgrounds and none of them are particularly famous, which is probably a lesson that TvN learned from The Genius where people of similar professions/level of fame tended to group together.

The “stars” so far have been the comedian Yang Sanggook who’s managed to be the dictator of one team for the first four episodes.

Also there’s MJ Kim, a female MMA fighter who is basically a tiger in a woman’s body. She’s proven herself as a valuable team-member and – at the time of writing – a team leader.

But everyone has something to add. Macho Yoon does not live up to his name of macho, and is fairly ineffectual at everything. Choi Seolhwa is one of Yang Sanggook’s confidants, but she seems a bit paranoid and is constantly wondering if she should start a rebellion against the dictator.

It’s delightful nonsense. In episode one it tries to dress itself up as a sociological experiment, but its true purpose is clear: to entertain. And it does that so well that you can’t help but be carried along in its gossipy back-biting. Enormous fun.

You can keep up to date with English subs here thanks to the wonderful Bumdidlyumptious.

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