Netflix is taking its mega-hit series “Squid Game” and bringing it into reality, albeit with some notable modifications. The streaming giant unveiled a teaser trailer for its new reality competition series, “Squid Game: The Challenge,” offering viewers a sneak peek at 456 contestants vying in a series of childhood games, but with far higher stakes – a staggering $4.56 million prize.
In the teaser, one participant, clad in the iconic green tracksuit, gazes in awe at the substantial cash prize suspended from the ceiling, exclaiming, “You have got to be kidding me.”
This groundbreaking series not only claims to offer the largest monetary prize in television history but also boasts the highest number of participants ever seen in a competition series, according to Netflix.
Here’s what you need to know about “Squid Game: The Challenge.”
The Premise of “Squid Game: The Challenge”
Netflix first revealed its plans for the reality competition series during the Banff World Media Festival in June. Similar to the South Korean survival drama, this 10-episode series centers around 456 contestants competing for a substantial cash reward. However, unlike the original show, contestants in “The Challenge” won’t face life-or-death scenarios.
Netflix opened casting for the reality series to “English-language speakers from any part of the world.” Eligible applicants must be at least 21 years old.
The application process required candidates to submit a one-minute video introducing themselves, highlighting their biography, explaining their desire to join “Squid Game: The Challenge,” detailing their “game plan,” and specifying how they would utilize a “huge cash prize.” Additionally, applicants were requested to include photos.
Interestingly, the application process also offered the option to store applicants’ data in Netflix’s contributor database, suggesting that “The Challenge” could potentially become an ongoing project.
Inspiration Behind “Squid Game: The Challenge”
“Squid Game: The Challenge” is a direct response to the immense popularity of the South Korean drama series. The original show made its worldwide debut in September 2021, quickly becoming Netflix’s most-watched series and earning renewal for a second season.
Starring Lee Jung-jae and HoYeon Jung, the K-drama follows contestants who participate in deadly games to escape crippling financial crises. To win, they must survive hyper-violent challenges, including confrontations with guards, intricate games, and other contestants. The series masterfully delves into themes of class disparity and capitalism in a world where economic desperation forces people to risk their lives.
Mixed Reactions from Fans
The announcement of “Squid Game: The Challenge” has evoked mixed reactions from fans. While some express enthusiasm about joining the competition, others question Netflix’s decision, particularly in light of the original show’s criticism of real-life competitions.
“Cool cool quick question, did they watch the show?” one user on social media commented.
Another user described it as the “antithesis” of the original show’s message. “Tell me you don’t understand what ‘Squid Game’ is about without telling me you don’t understand what ‘Squid Game’ is about,” wrote someone else.
Critics have called the concept “dystopian” and compared it to turning a fictional death game into a reality show. Given recent economic challenges, such as rising gas prices and a 40-year high in inflation, the timing of the announcement has also sparked irony in some comments.
Netflix has recently faced financial challenges, including falling share prices and a crackdown on password sharing. In April 2022, the company reported its first quarterly subscriber loss in a decade, losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter and anticipating an additional 2 million losses in the second quarter. Subsequently, Netflix laid off 150 employees, citing slowed revenue growth.
One social media user humorously quipped that the competition series might be “how Netflix is doing their next round of layoffs.”
“Squid Game: The Challenge” is scheduled to premiere on November 22, as confirmed by Netflix.
The series undoubtedly promises to bring a unique twist to the world of reality television, but its reception among viewers and its success in capturing the essence of the original show remain to be seen.