After all the Minecraft mods and YouTuber stunts, this was inevitable: Netflix is doing Squid Game for real. The streaming site is making a 10-episode competition series called Squid Game: The Challenge, and says the winner will get the largest lump sum cash prize in reality TV history: $4.56 million.
In the Korean drama series that inspired this reality series, hundreds of contestants play children’s games in a perverse competition that sees one winner freed from debt and the losers shot and cremated. Contestants on Squid Game: The Challenge will not be executed by snipers and incinerated (“the worst fate is going home empty-handed,” said Netflix before anyone asked) , but like the fictional Squid Game, there’ll be 456 of them to eliminate. Netflix says it’s the largest ever reality TV show cast.
Squid Game is Netflix’s most popular show ever, and it was everywhere for a couple months in 2021. This won’t even be the first ‘real’ Squid Game: YouTuber Mr Beast spent $3.5 million recreating scenes from the show last year, and over 250 million people watched the video (opens in new tab). Modders ran with it, too, recreating sudden death children’s games in Roblox and Minecraft. The PlayStation button masks, Fall Guys colors, and somewhat Battle Royale-like plot led us to write about the show, too. It was what was going on in September 2021.
I sort of wonder if it has staying power, though. How many ways can you make a kids’ game a twisted kids’ game? And after watching 456 adults play a deadly version of Red Light, Green Light in the fictional Squid Game, why would I want to watch 456 adults play regular Red Light, Green Light?
I suppose the show’s success will depend on the unscripted personalities of the competitors and, to some degree, how Netflix handles the dramatic irony here: There’s no shortage of onlookers pointing out that the fictional Squid Game is a metaphor for exploitation and abuse of the poor and downtrodden.
There’s still time to be one of those downtrodden, by the way. Netflix is casting for the show now. You won’t be slapped in the face and handed a cryptic business card in a subway station, though. You just have to submit a one minute video at squidgamecasting.com (opens in new tab). Disappointingly straightforward already!
Netflix hasn’t yet announced when Squid Game: The Challenge will release. (It should probably figure out who its 456 competitors are first.) Season two of Squid Game doesn’t have a release date either.
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