The truth TV increase of the early 2000s instilled each horror and hope, that maybe such a horrible pattern would quickly die off. As a substitute, dozens of American idols, a whole bunch of thrown wine glasses, the Kardashians, and one Snooki later, the style has turn into a everlasting fixture within the popular culture panorama. And why not? To be trustworthy, a lot of its thrills are irresistible, however these in search of a distinct register solely discover refuge in overseas markets. Perhaps it’s the relaxed Nice British Bake Off holding the standard of meals over the pace of competitors, or Single’s Inferno, with its healthful, usually awkward romance. For followers of health contests like Ninja Warrior or Robust As Nails, there’s a brand new present on the Netflix Prime 10 ready to be your subsequent actuality obsession from abroad. In Bodily: 100, 100 South Korean contestants — athletes, troopers, bodybuilders — compete for a money prize in shiny, high-tech units, with elimination coming at their sweatiest and most breathless. Actually, there are shades of Squid Recreation right here, however with the official try at a Squid Recreation actuality present faltering, Bodily: 100 stands as a wholesome and compelling different.
In Bodily: 100, there are not any pictures of the surface world, solely a collection of large and enigmatic units. There may be additionally no on-screen host, however a disembodied voice enjoying over audio system just like the Entrance Man, giving directions on upcoming occasions. Within the very first “pre-quest” problem, the 100 contestants are cut up into two teams and stand on a numbered grid. A lattice of steel bars descends from the ceiling, and everybody grabs on earlier than it recedes. The ground then splits open to disclose a steaming pool of water. This is a crucial and mandatory distinction between Bodily: 100 and Squid Recreation, and by extension, the Squid Recreation actuality present: the pool of water shouldn’t be lethal. The contestants have to hold on for so long as they’ll, however falling doesn’t result in damage. Nonetheless, there’s sufficient of a kersplat as they dunk into the water, perhaps letting unfastened a shriek or an expletive earlier than doing so.
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East vs. West Is a Present and Curse in ‘Bodily: 100’
The pre-quest winners are awarded with a bonus for the very first “quest,” and the winners are those that held on longest throughout the high 50 percentile. That is the place the opposite factor of Squid Recreation finds adaptation, past set design and basic spookiness: human psychology. The 100 are funneled into the subsequent mysterious room, with one half standing on corresponding numbers on the ground, and the opposite half standing on an elevated platform, an especially unsubtle visible metaphor that nonetheless encourages emotions of each inferiority and superiority. The benefit is that the highest 50 can select their opponents for the primary one-on-one problem, introducing a few of that traditional American-style strategizing. Sadly, lots of the gamers within the high 50 don’t do as anticipated, and as a substitute choose from among the many high 50. It’s like reverse-cheating! And when choices are made, the 2 contestants shake fingers and share encouraging phrases.
That is the place the decidedly non-American tendencies of a Korean actuality present each refresh and appear to battle with the makes an attempt at, nicely, battle. Within the first episode, it’s awfully cute that these extremely muscled women and men drop their pure swagger to zoom right into a well mannered greeting. This occurs time and again, as every contestant enters the room and greets everybody else, and by the point they’re achieved, the episode is over. Sure, the opening episode — Bodily: 100’s personal greeting — is nearly fully dedicated to introducing the solid, with cutaways to speaking head interviews and spotlight reels of their careers. Leaving somebody out could be impolite? For sure, this makes for an amazing pacing drawback, and the present suffers from a scarcity of dramatic pressure. For essentially the most half, there are not any stakes as we perceive them, no rivalries or backstabbing. However when a staff of straining, sweating contestants figures out the trick to pulling a 1.5-ton ship up a ramp, it’s a second of dramatic revelation; it’s all in regards to the bodily contest.
The Stars of ‘Bodily: 100’ Shine Brightly
In reality, a lot of the leisure within the early episodes is generated by the contestants themselves. Perhaps it’s Jeon Younger, contortionist choreographer for the zombies of Kingdom, difficult his opponent to a dance-off, or the MMA fighter who decides to discard a recreation’s guidelines in favor of a sparring match with the legend Yoshihiro Akiyama, right here often known as Choo Sung-hoon, an absolute monster in these arenas. The place one can really feel the heavy hand of producers in most actuality TV exhibits, the finer factors of the quests’ guidelines are withheld from each the viewers and the contestants, permitting a breadth of participant company nicely exploited by larger-than-life personalities. After which, on the opposite finish of that equation, there’s the saga of Jang Eun-sil.
Whereas the machinations of Bodily: 100 solely typically provoke the wanted psychological response in contestants, they align in good concord to repeatedly screw over one among them, the wrestling champion Eun-sil, who’s at one level elected to be a staff chief in a tiered voting system. “Why me?” she says, the final of 10 chosen and the one girl. The ten leaders stand shoulder-to-shoulder going through the others, who’re instructed to line up earlier than the chief of their selecting. Naturally, most of them line up earlier than the primary chief, who then makes cuts. Just one participant — one other girl — chooses Eun-sil, who’s ultimately saddled with all of the misfits. Her staff is considered because the weakest, and promptly chosen as opponents by a extra assured chief for the upcoming problem.
The Drama of ‘Squid Recreation’ with Not one of the “Drama”
When the 456 contestants of Squid Recreation needed to break up into groups, the boys had been useless set in opposition to selecting girls (and previous males), however the recreation turned out to require greater than brute energy. Simply because the American present Robust As Nails spotlights girls with non-Hollywood physiques, Bodily: 100 additionally dispels preconceptions about what gendered our bodies are speculated to be or do. The most important guys fall first on the hanging problem, unable to deal with their weight, and if dimension is a bonus in a given occasion, it’s just one device within the toolbox. That stated, Jang Eun-sil will be the scariest competitor for her sheer energy along with her talent, established after bodying a feminine particular forces soldier in a one-on-one match. She and her underdog staff are put to the take a look at in a problem that’s half impediment course, half labor, the place victory is decided by technique, communication, and stamina. It’s anybody’s recreation, whether or not farmer or mountain climber, previous or younger, man or girl. Nevertheless, earlier than the winner is said, the episode smashes to black and the credit roll. The sadism of those fixed cliffhangers is an additional indicator of its status TV influences.
And but, Bodily: 100 succeeds the place the Squid Recreation actuality present has already accrued a fridge’s price of dangerous headlines by adopting solely the aesthetic of Hwang Dong-hyuk’s megahit, not its thematic framework. The place Squid Recreation was a research of ruthless human psychology underneath capitalism, Bodily: 100 affords an equally vital social lesson about how we outline and derive “energy,” with all its corresponding attributions of worth in society. Whether or not all of the contestants imagine it, women and men are equal rivals in these challenges which emphasize a wide range of strengths, making a ultimate, holistic visible metaphor — this time, for egalitarianism. And amongst these contestants is a correct embarrassment of compelling expertise, from the indomitable Sung-hoon and Eun-sil to the infectiously enthusiastic Miracle and, in fact, the “looking forward to the plot” sorts like Cha Hyun-seung, additionally seen on Single’s Inferno. Initially unassuming, with its slow-burn tempo and minimalist presentation, by the point Bodily: 100 strikes, there’s no escaping its well-toned grip.