Class Critiques in Squid Game, Succession, etc. — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #112

Pop­u­lar shows have com­ment­ed on wealth inequal­i­ty by show­ing how dire the sit­u­a­tion is for the poor and/or how dis­con­nect­ed and clue­less the rich are. How effec­tive is this type of social com­men­tary?

Your host Mark Lin­sen­may­er is joined by philoso­pher and NY Times writer Lawrence Ware, nov­el­ist and writ­ing pro­fes­sor Sarahlyn Bruck, and edu­ca­tor with a rhetoric doc­tor­ate Michelle Par­rinel­lo-Cason to dis­cuss the appeal of both real­i­ty show (“fish­bowl”) hor­ror and satire. Is it OK if we don’t like any of the char­ac­ters in Suc­ces­sion? Does Squid Game actu­al­ly deserve its 94% on Rot­ten Toma­toes? Are we even capa­ble as Amer­i­can view­ers of appre­ci­at­ing what it’s try­ing to do?

We also touch on White Lotus, The Hunt, Schit­t’s Creek, tor­ture porn, social com­men­tary in songs, and more. Lurk­ing in the back­ground here are foun­da­tion­al works for this trend: Par­a­site, Get Out, Bat­tle Royale, and The Hunger Games.

A few arti­cles we may have drawn on for the dis­cus­sion:

Hear more from our guests on past episodes: Law on var­i­ous PEL dis­cus­sions on race and reli­gion, Sarahlyn on PMP on soap operas, Michelle on PMP on board games. Fol­low them @law_writes, @sarahlynbruck and @DaylaLearning.

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.