Inverse Recommends

Netflix’s Latest Dystopian Show Puts Our Reality TV Obsession on Steroids

Don’t be fooled by its goofiness — this is a sci-fi story unlike any other.

Inverse Recommends

Three years ago, Squid Game fever swept not only America but the entire world, immediately prompting YouTuber knockoffs, a Netflix-sanctioned reality competition show, and even a live experience. The series’ dystopian worldbuilding is so close to our reality that it’s too tempting not to adopt the deadly game ourselves (even if people don’t actually die).

Now, a new Netflix series is attempting to do the same thing. Thankfully, its version of dystopia is a lot less relatable, meaning the story can be that much more ridiculous. It’s difficult to categorize — post-apocalyptic? Sci-fi dystopia? Rom-com? — but no matter what genre you call it, it’s an entertaining ride from start to finish.

Thai Netflix original Ready, Set, Love is clearly inspired by more than just Squid Game. It’s set in an alternate world that was ravaged by a pandemic in the 1970s, killing off a majority of men across the world and limiting new births of boys to 0.001 percent. While reproduction is still possible through IVF, men become “national treasures” raised in an idyllic commune from birth.

Since there are only about 300 men in this version of Thailand, the hottest reality show Ready, Set, Love allows 50 women to compete for the attention of five men through various challenges and set pieces lifted from our real-life reality shows. It’s like The Bachelor but with higher stakes — but with no chance for a Bachelorette spinoff.

The series follows Day, a struggling retail worker trying to scrape together money to help her sick sister. She wins a lotto to become a contestant in Ready, Set, Love, and while at first, it’s just a way to try some new food, she quickly realizes winning would mean her sister is set for life. Thankfully, she has a tie to the handsome “ice prince” Son that even she’s not aware of.

Pop culture influences are shoved into this series to the point of bursting. Day first meets Son in a men’s restroom (because she’s never heard of such a thing), but they cross paths again in a Love Is Blind-style booth. As girls get thinned out, they conquer challenges influenced by Big Brother, The Amazing Race, and, of course, Squid Game. It’s all overseen by a Hunger Games-style game master who reveals a new level of corruption.

The Five Gentlemen — and the horde of Ladies — in Ready, Set, Love.


But like any good dystopian show, there has to be a reckoning. Day, along with her best friend and a handful of the Gentlemen, slowly establishes a rebellion within the series, discovering a horrific conspiracy and an underground movement. Somehow, the series balances goofy candy-colored game-show elements with a shockingly dark subplot about mothers getting their sons ripped from their arms after birth.

Ready, Set, Love is more than just a rom-com version of dystopia. It’s a masterclass in immersive sci-fi worldbuilding. Because much of the runtime we see is the in-universe reality show, we learn how this new culture works from the source, and Day’s behind-the-scenes exploits feel like forbidden knowledge.

Three years later, it’s exactly what we need to follow up on Squid Game’s success: an over-the-top sci-fi world where the dystopia is so out there that you don’t have to worry about a real reality show taking after it. You can just settle in and watch while knowing Day and her friends will attempt to change the world.

Ready, Set, Love is now streaming on Netflix.

Related Tags