Following the unmitigated success of the fictitious South Korean survival show Squid Game in 2021, Netflix, looking to continue to capitalize on the show, created a real life version of the game.
The official synopsis of the upcoming show, titled Squid Game: The Challenge is as follows…
“With both the largest cast and lump sum cash prize in reality TV history, 456 real players will enter the game in pursuit of a life-changing reward of $4.56 million. As they compete through a series of games inspired by the original show – plus surprising new additions – their strategies, alliances, and character will be put to the test while competitors are eliminated around them. The stakes are high, but in this game the worst fate is going home empty-handed.”
Netflix has yet to announce a release date for Squid Game: The Challenge, but the filming of the is currently underway.
Shortly thereafter, several contestants were already lodging some very serious complaints.
“It was just the cruelest, meanest thing I’ve ever been through,” one contestant told Rolling Stone as part of a lengthy exposé. “We were a human horse race, and they were treating us like horses out in the cold racing and [the race] was fixed.”
Another contestant claimed, “All the torment and trauma we experienced wasn’t due to the game or the rigor of the game. It was the incompetencies of scale — they bit off more than they could chew.”
Four former players have detailed their experiences to Rolling Stone, confirming earlier reports that contestants were forced to play the show’s “Red Light, Green Light” game in inhumane conditions, spending up to nine hours inside a freezing airport hangar, unable to move for 30-minute stretches, with medics rushing in to tend to people who were unable to take the extreme cold. All requested that their names be withheld, citing their NDAs.
They also claim that some of the contestants, including TikTok and Instagram influencers, appeared to be pre-selected to advance, regardless of how they did in the first game.
“It really wasn’t a game show. It was a TV show, and we were basically extras in a TV show,” one of the contestants said.
Three former players describe what contestants are now calling the “38-second massacre,” when a large group of contestants made it across the finish line with time remaining on the clock, meaning they had successfully made it through to the next round. However, as they waited for producers to go over footage and get drone shots from the round, their blood squib packs went off minutes later, and they were told they had been eliminated, despite making it across the finish line. “They went crazy,” one contestant recalls.
Throw in the fact that two contestants claim that when they received their plane tickets, their return tickets were already booked, and scheduled for right after they wound up being eliminated.
“Instead of Squid Game, [they] are calling it ‘Rigged Game.’ Instead of Netflix, they’re calling it ‘Net Fix,’ because it was clearly obvious,” one of the players said.
Beyond the brutal conditions, the former contestants allege they witnessed clear signs of players being pre-selected to advance to the next round. One says they noticed only the players who were fully mic’d up being taken away to film before the game started, cameras following them as they mingled with other mic’d-up players. Two say they saw some contestants clearly moving when they were supposed to be frozen, yet weren’t eliminated. One claims they saw a contestant eliminated, only to be added back to the game.
Another says she was eliminated when there were five seconds remaining on the clock at the end of the grueling nine hours. But as she waited to be escorted off the set, she says she noticed cameras pointed at a contestant who was playing with his mother. “This kid is sitting at the finish line, he’s crying, and cameras are on him and he’s waiting for his mom. They added [more time] to the clock for her to get across because she was one of the people that they wanted to be in the show.”
Multiple former contestants of Squid Game: The Challenge say they are seeking legal advice and may file lawsuits against the production company.
UPDATE: Statement from Netflix, Studio Lambert, and The Garden.
“We care deeply about the health of our cast and crew, and the quality of this show. Any suggestion that the competition is rigged or claims of serious harm to players are simply untrue. We’ve taken all the appropriate safety precautions, including after care for contestants – and an independent adjudicator is overseeing each game to ensure it’s fair to everyone.”