To no one’s surprise, a reality show inspired by a series portraying a sadistic game in which the rich exploit people who desperately need help has been a complete disaster.
Netflix’s reality show inspired by its hit series Squid Game was set to replicate the Korean drama’s many game trials with 456 players participating and a $4.56 million cash prize. The games in Squid Game: The Challenge were supposed to be staged replicas without any serious consequences. However, despite Netflix denying that any “serious injury” occurred on set, participants in the reality show have started sharing the grueling conditions they were working under.
The show is currently being filmed in a former military base in Bedfordshire, with its production ill-prepared for England’s frigid weather. Across several testimonies, participants have said that the filming site was “fucking freezing,” with no hand warmers or coats allowed during filming. Several participants collapsed during the reality show’s first game of Red Light, Green Light, likely due to fatigue and the extreme cold. Testimonies also revealed that haphazard organization made it difficult to get these participants immediate medical care.
Squid Game: The Challenge‘s hostile working conditions also trickled down to the hotel where eliminated participants were staying: “Everyone [was] hungry and asking for water, [but] none of that [was] there,” said a participant. When food was handed out, they said, it was done at random, with some participants getting off-putting burgers, others cookies, and others nothing at all. Participants also had their phones and laptops locked away, so it was impossible to order anything needed or communicate with a third party about the situation.
In addition, testimonies revealed a lack of transparency between producers and participants (who were not allowed to talk to each other), leaving many to think the game was rigged. In one particular testimony shared to Vice, a participant revealed that some players had working microphones while others didn’t, some were getting paid and others weren’t, and they all seemingly had different audition processes. Some contestants were also unfairly getting eliminated, leading one participant to believe, “This was never a game I could win. I’m not a contestant, I’m an extra.”
Since its announcement, Squid Game: The Challenge has received ample criticism for completely missing the point of the show it’s based on. Mashable’s Belen Edwards writes, “The announcement that Netflix is now throwing cash at content like this, instead of supporting employees or the many scripted shows they shut down, is a horrendous look — especially when you remember that Squid Game pits people in debt against each other for the enjoyment of rich elites.”