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Pyramid Game

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Sarah Rasmussen

TV Series Review

It’s just a game.

Perhaps that’s what some school-aged children would say to console themselves after a disappointing round of four square or freeze tag. After all, the outcomes of these games are usually inconsequential.

But at Baekyeon Girls’ High School, the games are anything but trivial. In fact, new girl Sung Soo-ji discovers that her class’s Pyramid Game may actually be deadly.

HIGH SCHOOL HIERARCHY

Usually, Sung Soo-ji knows how to be the new girl. Her father’s position in the South Korean military requires Soo-ji to switch schools every few months, so she has become an expert in acclimating to high school hierarchies. Her typical protocol is to avoid bullies and “losers,” and she’ll be all right.

But things are different at Baekyeon.

Soo-ji can’t place it at first, but there’s something strange about the girls in Class Five (a select group of Juniors at Baekyeon). Her classmates seem normal enough, but why do they all stare suspiciously at her when she introduces herself? Why is a girl named Ja-eun covered in cuts and bruises? And what do the girls mean when they talk about “home room”?

Soo-ji finally learns the answers to these questions on the last Thursday of the month when the girls participate in their “home room” ritual.

“It’s called the Pyramid Game,” explains a classmate.

Every last Thursday, the girls in Class Five log into the Pyramid Game app on their phones. Using the app, each girl may vote for up to five people. Based on the number of votes each girl receives, she is sorted into one of four ranks: A, B, C and D. Girls in Rank A experience special social benefits, while girls in the lower ranks must follow Rank A’s orders. Girls with no votes fall into Rank F and become the target of violent bullying for the next month.

“It’s not mandatory,” one of the girls explains. “You can choose not to play, like Ja-eun … but if you’re not here, no one can vote for you.”

Suddenly, everything eerie about Baekyeon makes sense to Soo-ji. But before she has time to strategize for the Pyramid Game, the votes are in, and Soo-ji finds herself with Ja-eun in Rank F.

But Soo-ji doesn’t plan to patiently endure bullying for the next month. She’ll do whatever it takes to find the person responsible for starting the games and shut them down.

RANK F

Based on a Webtoon series by the same name, the South Korean television show Pyramid Game became available to American audiences via Paramount+ in May 2024. And in terms of family friendliness, Pyramid Game lands in Rank F.

In the English subtitles of this Korean show, characters frequently use harsh profanity including the s-word and the f-word. Additionally, there are references to harmful substances. For example, in the first episode of Season One, a character attempts to force Soo-ji to consume opioids.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Pyramid Game is its premise. The TV show explores the harmful effects of bullying, and while its observations about high school social hierarchies and groupthink are interesting, Pyramid Game depicts scenes of extremely violent bullying.

Bullies slap, kick and throw heavy items at their victims, and viewers can clearly see the bloody effects of these actions. In one scene, a girl threatens a group with a knife and slits the throat of another student. There are also references—and a few graphic depictions—of self-harm and suicide.

Media can significantly influence our beliefs and actions. And perhaps the creators of Pyramid Game intended to utilize media’s influence to encourage viewers to speak up when they witness bullying. However, due to the extreme gore used to communicate these themes, parents will likely want to find other resources to teach their children about the harms of bullying.

(Editor’s Note: Plugged In is rarely able to watch every episode of a given series for review. As such, there’s always a chance that you might see a problem that we didn’t. If you notice content that you feel should be included in our review, send us an email at [email protected], or contact us via Facebook or Instagram, and be sure to let us know the episode number, title and season so that we can check it out.)

Episode Reviews

May 30, 2024 – S1, E1: “Episode 1”

Sung Soo-ji is the new girl at Baekyeon Girl’s High School. And because of her class’s monthly “Pyramid Game” ritual, she learns that her social status is of utmost importance.

A girl threatens a group with a knife. When another student attempts to intervene, the girl slices the student’s throat and draws a stream of blood. A group of girls throw sports balls at a student and kick her body when she falls. Girls gang up on a student, pinning her against the wall and kicking her. A group covers a girl’s face with plastic and attempts to suffocate her. In a hypothetical scene, a character falls to her death, and her blood pools around her after her demise. Bullies hold a student down and force her to swallow live mealworms.

There is a brief discussion about menstruation used to humiliate a girl. Students pick on a character by lifting up her skirt and snapping her bra against her back (in both of these cases, the character remains fully clothed).

Marks on a girl’s wrists suggest she has performed self-harm. A character attempts suicide.

There are six uses of “d–n,” one use of “p-ss,” four uses of “b–ch,” one use of “a–,” two uses of “h—,” four uses of the s-word and two uses of the f-word. One character makes a rude gesture. A character misuses God’s name

A character smokes a cigarette, and another character tries to force Soo-ji to take an opioid pill.

Soo-ji seems to have a distant relationship with her father. A character lies about why she is late on her first day of school. A girl dances slightly sensually as she sings a song during music class.

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Sarah Rasmussen

Sarah Rasmussen is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2023.

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