Pyramid Game is definitely unlike Netflix’s Squid Game. I was curious whether it would live up to one of the best streaming shows of 2021. So upon finishing the first episode, I found it’s a different type of scenario. Instead of a sadistic competition game revolving around children’s games, it’s a twisted version of a popularity contest that happens once a month. So let’s see how this show starts.

Shin Seul Ki as Seo Do-ah in Pyramid Game episode 1, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Shin Su Hye, Kim Hyun Joo/Paramount+.

Episode one begins with Seong-Su Ji’s (Kim-Ji Yeon) first day at Baekyeon Girls’ High School looking for a fresh start. Everything seems fine until she witnesses a student being bullied in the sports shed. The bullied girl, Meyong Ja-eun (Ryu Da-Bin) looks like she’d seen better days and urges Su Ji to return to class.

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Ryu Da In as Myeong Ja-eun in Pyramid Game episode 1, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Shin Su Hye, Kim Hyun Joo/Paramount+.

She discovers the classes’ sinister machinations in the form of the “pyramid game”, which allows students to vote for popular students and receive special treatment in the A through E ranks. The goal is to not be in the F-rank, where the higher-rank kids subjugate the F-rank student(s) for three months of constant tormenting violence until the next voting period. Su-ji unfortunately was voted into the same rank as Ja-eun, which is the start of the most traumatizing three months she will endure.

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L-R: YULLI.A as Bang Wu-ie, Jang Da A as Baek Ha-rin and Hwang Hyeon Jeong as Kim Da-yeon in Pyramid Game episode 1, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Shin Su Hye, Kim Hyun Joo/Paramount+.

It’s been a weird yet gripping introduction to the series. Where Squid Game was strange and gut-wrenching in a shocking way, Pyramid Game is odd and disturbing. Bullying in any setting should not be tolerated, but at this fictional school, it is a regular occurrence. When bad stuff happens to Su Ji every day, the audience hopes she somehow finds a way to get through the day.

Kim Ji yeon as Seong Su-ji in Pyramid Game episode 1, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Shin Su Hye, Kim Hyun Joo/Paramount+.

It is a sledgehammer way to open a series on such an ominous tone. It’s not Squid Game, but it is a show about how the pyramid game is a comparable allegory to how the upper-class societies treat the lower ones as inferior. So it is fascinating in that aspect, and I’m itching to see how Su-ji will end the game as the series continues.

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