Squid Game: The Challenge

British reality competition television series

  • Stephen Lambert
Running time40–57 minutesProduction companies
  • Studio Lambert
  • The Garden
Original releaseNetworkNetflixRelease22 November 2023 (2023-11-22) –
present

Squid Game: The Challenge is a British reality competition television series based on the South Korean drama series Squid Game. The show features 456 players (the largest cast in reality TV history) competing for US$4.56 million, the largest single cash prize in reality television history.

The Netflix original was produced as a collaboration between independent television production companies Studio Lambert and the Garden, with Studio Lambert leading physical production in the UK.[1] The first 5 episodes of the show were released internationally on 22 November 2023 on Netflix.[2][3] Episodes 6–9 were released on 29 November, while episode 10, the finale, was released on 6 December.[4]

The show was No. 1 on Netflix’s list of Top 10 English-language show for the first two weeks after its release. It had 20.5 million views in its first week, 11.4 million in its second, and 6.6 million in its third, with a total of over 224 million hours watched within the first 21 days.[5][6][7]

On 6 December 2023, prior to the release of the season one finale, Netflix announced a second season order.[8]

Episodes

The first five were released on 22 November 2023.[3] Episodes 6–9 were released on 29 November, while episode 10, the finale, was released on 6 December.[4][9]

No. in
season
TitleOriginal air date
1"Green Light, Red Light"22 November 2023 (2023-11-22)

456 players compete to win US$4.56 million (about £3.6 million), the largest cast and second largest cash prize in reality competition history. Players participate in eliminatory games and "tests".[10]

In the initial activity, multiple players were eliminated in the first two rounds by getting "shot" (dye packs in their uniforms).[11] Then, in the game named "Red Light, Green Light", players had what seems to be five minutes[12] to cross the arena without getting caught by the robotic girl. 259 players were eliminated, notable ones among them being Leva, Mike, and Cathy.

In the "Decision test", while peeling carrots in between games, two players were given the option to give a player an advantage or eliminate a player. They opted to eliminate.

Prior to the "Dalgona" game, players were asked to stand in four lines. One player from each line was asked to agree on which groups (including themselves) would be assigned the four dalgona shapes (circle, triangle, star, and umbrella). When the four players could not come to an agreement in two minutes, they were eliminated. The following four could also not agree.
2"The Man With the Umbrella"22 November 2023 (2023-11-22)

The last game continued in the second episode. The third set of four players were able to come to a decision. Players were then tasked to etch the shape in the Dalgona Candy with a needle. 69 players were eliminated in this game.

In the "Phone test", between games, a phone was provided in the dormitory. One player picked up the phone and received a McDonald's meal. The second time the phone rang, the same player picked up the phone again and was told that, to avoid elimination, he would need to convince another player to pick up the phone as well.
3"War"22 November 2023 (2023-11-22)
The episode starts by showing the "Phone test" player not succeeding in convincing another player to pick up the phone and being eliminated. In this episode's game, players were tasked to create eight evenly split teams. The teams then were faced off against another team to play the next game, a variant on Battleship. After identifying a captain and lieutenant, teams had to place boats on a game board and seat players in the boats. When all boats were placed, teams shot "rockets" at the other team's game board to sink the ships. The first team to sink two ships won the round. All players in sunk ships and the Captain and Lieutenant of the losing team were eliminated, while all other players (including players on the losing team in surviving boats) moved on. 45 players were eliminated, notable ones among them Figgy and Anna.
4"Nowhere to Hide"22 November 2023 (2023-11-22)
This was followed by the "Vote test", in which players were told that they each would place a vote for one person to be eliminated. Once a vote was cast against a player, they would be displayed on the screen. The top three receivers of votes were eliminated.
5"Trick or Treat"22 November 2023 (2023-11-22)
In the "Jack-in-the-box test", five volunteers were provided with jack-in-the-boxes which included tasks for them to complete, to the effect of eliminating other players. In total, this test eliminated seven players.
6"Goodbye"29 November 2023 (2023-11-29)

In the "Marbles" game, for completing a chore successfully in the designated time, players were treated with a picnic where they sat in pairs. Hidden in the baskets were marbles, and players were told that their opponents for the Marbles game would be the person with whom they had their picnic. A player who had no partner was selected to be safe through the round. 32 players were eliminated, leaving 31 players in the game.

The remaining players were tasked to decide on a captain, which they did. The "captain" was then informed that he alongside 19 others would move on to play in Game 5, and that the next test would be an "Allegiance test". He was told to select one ally from the group to advance alongside him. This selection set off a domino effect, where each chosen player picked another, creating a chain of allegiances. The test would conclude in the following episode
7"Friend and Foe"29 November 2023 (2023-11-29)

The episode begins with the conclusion of the Allegiance test. The eleven players not selected were eliminated, leaving 20 players to remain in the game.

After this came "Glass Bridge", featuring a bridge containing 17 pairs of glass tiles. Each pair had one safe tile and one unsafe tile. Players, each assigned a unique number from 1 to 20, crossed the bridge in sequence within 30 minutes. Wrong choices led to elimination. To add a layer of unpredictability to the game, players were instructed to select a teddy bear from a claw machine. Each bear was associated with a hidden specific number, which they then needed to assign to another player, establishing the sequence in which the contestants would participate in the game.
8"One Step Closer"29 November 2023 (2023-11-29)

The episode begins with he conclusion of the Glass Bridge game, with twelve players remaining.

In the “Die test”, players took turns rolling dice. Before rolling, they nominated their own name or another player’s. If a '6' was rolled, the nominated person was eliminated. The game stopped after three players were eliminated, leaving nine players.
9"Circle of Trust"29 November 2023 (2023-11-29)
In the penultimate episode, players were presented with an altered version of heads up, seven up. They were blindfolded and seated at desks in a circle with a gift box on a central podium. When tapped, a player would secretly remove their blindfold, pick up the gift box, place it on another player’s desk, then replace their blindfold. All would remove their blindfolds and the player with the box would guess who placed it. Were they to guess correctly, the gifter would be eliminated; if not, they would be eliminated. Six players were eliminated in this way, causing players named Sam, Mai, and Phil to remain.
10"One Lucky Day"6 December 2023 (2023-12-06)

In the “Button test”, the three players were treated to a feast at a triangle-shaped table. A podium in the middle displayed three buttons. Each was to press a button. If it glowed green, that player would move on and choose another player to join them. If it glowed gray, nothing would happen. If it glowed red, the player would be eliminated. Mai pressed the centre button which glowed gray. Sam pressed the right button which glowed red, eliminating him. Phil didn’t need to press a button due to Sam’s elimination.

In the finals, both players stood on the eyes of a squid-shaped grid. At the top and bottom of the grid were a safe and a box of keys. Both players drew a move in rock paper scissors. The winner selected a key from the box and tried to open the safe. If unsuccessful, the game continued. The player who picked a key and unlocked the safe would win. Mai defeated Phil and won Squid Game.

Production

In June 2022, it was announced that Netflix had given the production a series order.[13]

Casting

Applications for the series opened in June 2022 with an announcement video released on YouTube.[14] Netflix sought contestants from around the world but mandated that they must be English-speaking.[13] The streaming service put out a final casting call in September 2022.[15] Approximately 81,000 applied to be contestants.[10]

With 456 real players, the series claims to have the largest cast in reality TV history.[16] The most number of players are: from the United States; in their 20s; men.[10]

Filming

Filming began in January 2023 across two studios in the UK, Cardington Studios in Bedford and on six giant sound stages in Barking, London.[17][18]

Reports emerged that ambulances had been called to treat real-life injuries sustained while filming the show. Several players claimed in an interview that "Red Light, Green Light" had actually lasted for 7 hours, where players had to hold poses for up to 30 minutes. Netflix denied the severity of the reports, stating that the injuries were mild medical conditions and that they care about the health and safety of the cast and crew.[19] The local ambulance service also stated it had not been called out to the studios. Britain's Health and Safety Executive evaluated the production after these complaints and found no actionable issues.[20] Two unnamed players from the show threatened to sue Netflix after claiming that they had hypothermia during filming.[21]

Game fairness and conditions

Four contestants of Squid Game: The Challenge made claims that the games were "rigged" and that filming conditions were poor. For example, for the game "Red Light, Green Light", players were forced to play in an unheated hangar for over nine hours, while medics tended to those who were unable to handle the low temperatures. In addition, in this game there were players who reached the finish line, but were still eliminated.[22] One player also claimed to have seen another player who was eliminated but still able to rejoin the game.[23]

Reception

Viewership

In its release week (20–26 November 2023), Squid Game: The Challenge was the most-watched show globally on Netflix, with 85.7 million hours. It reached number one in 74 countries that same week, including the US and UK – and was Top 10 in a further 19 countries.[5]

The series stayed at number one globally on Netflix into a second week (27 November – 3 December 2023), with 11.4 million views and 85 million hours watched. It was Top 10 in TV in 91 different countries that week.[6] The reality competition series also boosted the original drama series Squid Game to number seven on the Non-English TV list with 1.5 million views that week.[24]

In its third week post-release, Squid Game: The Challenge came in third place globally. It added 6.6 million views and 54.1 million hours viewed.[7]

Critical response

The show received a mixed reception from critics and audiences. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 45% based on 44 reviews, with an average score of 5.8/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The Challenge can be an addictive binge thanks to the sheer ingenuity of Squid Games' set pieces, but playing the original series' barbed satire completely straight gives this spinoff a soulless aftertaste."[25] Metacritic gave a weighted average score of 51 out of 100 based on 22 critics reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[26]

Ryan Smith wrote in Newsweek, "Netflix's new spin-off of the thrilling Korean drama not only succeeds but triumphs in bringing to screens one of the most compelling TV competitions of the decade".[27] In the Financial Times, Dan Einav proclaimed the "Netflix megahit becomes an irresistible reality show",[28] while the Radio Times stated that Squid Game: The Challenge "not only lives up to the original, but with the new twists, challenges, and the real-life prize fund at stake, it's even more intense than the hit show".[29] In Vulture, Nicholas Quah said "not only does Squid Game: The Challenge qualify as damn good reality television, it even serves as an unexpectedly effective adaptation of the original K-drama. The game show uses the language of modern reality television to realize, in its own strange way, the themes in Dong-hyuk's parable of capitalism grinding human beings into dust". Quah concluded "Squid Game: The Challenge isn't just a good reality show. It's a morally righteous one".[30] Writing in The Guardian, critic Rebecca Nicholson said, "The real-life version of the Netflix drama is a grandiose, addictive spectacle that will have you shouting at your TV before the end of episode one."[31]

Some critics have suggested the unscripted version misses the point of the drama. The Hollywood Reporter called it "a brand extension that fundamentally misunderstands what the brand was meant to represent in the first place", continuing "you can take the anti-capitalism out of Squid Game – but capitalism will always find a way to rear its ugly head".[32] In The Telegraph, Jasper Rees said "the reality remake loses none of the tension or intrigue" of the drama, continuing "I…am agog to discover how ruthless the last dollar-driven survivors can be".[33] Chase Hutchinson for Collider found it "shameless and opportunistic" and concluded "if the corrupt forces of capitalism could be made into a shambling corpse of television, it would look like Squid Game: The Challenge".[34]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2024
Art Directors Guild Awards Excellence in Production Design for a Variety, Reality, or Competition Series Mathieu Weekes and Benjamin Norman (for "War") Won [35]
BPG Awards Best Entertainment Squid Game: The Challenge Won [36]
RTS Awards Entertainment Won [37]
British Academy Television Awards Best Reality Won [38]
People's Choice Awards The Competition Show of the Year Nominated [39]
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television Nominated [40][41]

See also

  • $456,000 Squid Game in Real Life! – 2021 video by MrBeast

References

  1. ^ "'Squid Game' Reality Show Teaser Brings 'Red Light, Green Light' to Life on Netflix (Video)". TheWrap. 17 June 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  2. ^ "'Squid Game: The Challenge': Controversial Netflix Competition Series Gets Release Date and First Look". Variety. 17 June 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  3. ^ a b Goldbart, Max (22 September 2023). "'Squid Game: The Challenge': Netflix Unveils Trailer & Launch Date for Reality Series with $4.56M Prize Fund". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 September 2023.
  4. ^ a b Starkey, Adam (21 November 2023). "What time is 'Squid Game: The Challenge' on Netflix?". NME. Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Netflix Global Top 10 TV (November 20-26, 2023)". Tudum. Archived from the original on 29 November 2023. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  6. ^ a b "Netflix Global Top 10 TV (November 27 - December 3, 2023)". Tudum. Archived from the original on 6 December 2023. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  7. ^ a b "Netflix Global Top 10 TV (December 4-10, 2023)". Tudum. Archived from the original on 14 December 2023. Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  8. ^ Moreau, Jordan (6 December 2023). "'Squid Game: The Challenge' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix, Casting Now Open". Variety. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  9. ^ "Watch Squid Game: The Challenge". Netflix. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  10. ^ a b c Richards, Amanda; Delbyck, Cole (1 December 2023). "Zip Up Your Tracksuits Because 'Squid Game: The Challenge' Is Here". Tudum. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  11. ^ "Squid Game: The Challenge". Tudum.
  12. ^ Adekaiyero, Ayomikun. "I was on 'Squid Game: The Challenge.' The 'Red Light, Green Light' game took hours to film, and I knew karma would get me after I eliminated someone". Insider.
  13. ^ a b "Will Squid Game: The Challenge be the darkest reality show ever?". The Guardian. 15 June 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  14. ^ "Squid Game: The Challenge – Announcement – Netflix" (video). Netflix. 14 June 2022 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ "Squid Game: The Challenge – Final Casting Call – Netflix" (video). Netflix. 17 September 2022 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ "Squid Game Casting". squidgamecasting.com. Netflix.
  17. ^ "'Squid Game' Reality Show Sees Medics Called for Frozen Players Affected by U.K. Cold Snap". Variety. 25 January 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  18. ^ "'It's like the Stanford Prison Experiment': The British studio turning Squid Game into reality". The Daily Telegraph. 30 July 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  19. ^ "Squid Game: Three receive treatment during Netflix show". BBC News. 25 January 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  20. ^ "'Squid Game: The Challenge' Faced Safety Watchdog Review After Medical Incidents On Netflix Series". Deadline. 10 February 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  21. ^ Kanter, Jake (23 November 2023). "'Squid Game: The Challenge' Contestants Threaten Lawsuit After Claiming They Suffered Hypothermia & Nerve Damage During Filming". Deadline. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  22. ^ Roundtree, Cheyenne (2 February 2023). "Netflix's 'Squid Game' Reality Show Was 'Cruel' and 'Rigged,' Say Contestants". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  23. ^ "'Squid Game: The Challenge': Unpacking all the reality show's controversies". TODAY.com. 28 November 2023. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  24. ^ Campione, Katie (5 December 2023). "'Leo' & 'Squid Game: The Challenge' Dominate Netflix Top 10 For Second Week". Deadline. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  25. ^ "Squid Game: The Challenge: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  26. ^ "Squid Game: The Challenge". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  27. ^ Smith, Ryan (22 November 2023). "Netflix's 'Squid Game: The Challenge' Breaks All the Rules of Reality TV". Newsweek. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  28. ^ Einav, Dan (21 November 2023). "Squid Game: The Challenge TV review — Netflix megahit becomes an irresistible reality show". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  29. ^ Henry, Grace (21 November 2023). "Squid Game: The Challenge review - More intense than drama series with new twists". Radio Times. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  30. ^ Quah, Nicholas (20 November 2023). "Oh No, Is Squid Game: The Challenge … Good?". Vulture. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  31. ^ Nicholson, Rebecca (20 November 2023). "Squid Game: The Challenge review – the most gripping reality TV since The Traitors". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  32. ^ Han, Angie (21 November 2023). "'Squid Game: The Challenge' Review: Netflix Cashes in, and It's Not Pretty". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  33. ^ Rees, Jasper (20 November 2023). "Squid Game: The Challenge, Netflix, review: reality remake loses none of the tension or intrigue". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  34. ^ Hutchinson, Chase (20 November 2023). "'Squid Game: The Challenge' Review: Netflix's Reality Show Needs to Be Eliminated". Collider. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  35. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (9 January 2024). "Saltburn, Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon Lead Art Directors Guild 2024 Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  36. ^ Goldbart, Max (21 March 2024). "'Happy Valley' Wins Big At UK Broadcasting Press Guild Awards; 'The Crown's Andy Harries Honored". Deadline. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  37. ^ Rufo, Yasmin (27 March 2024). "RTS Awards 2024: Stacey Solomon and Hannah Waddingham among winners". BBC News. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  38. ^ "BAFTA Television 2024: The Winners and Nominations". www.bafta.org. 15 March 2024. Retrieved 14 May 2024.
  39. ^ Malec, Brett (11 January 2024). "2024 People's Choice Awards: Complete List of Nominees". E! Online. Archived from the original on 11 January 2024. Retrieved 11 January 2024.
  40. ^ Bergeson, Samantha (12 January 2024). "PGA Awards 2024 Nominations: Maestro, Killers of the Flower Moon, and Past Lives Among Contenders". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 12 January 2024. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  41. ^ "PGA Awards (2024)". IMDb.

External links

  • Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix Edit this at Wikidata
  • Squid Game: The Challenge at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  • Squid Game: The Challenge at UKGameshows.com
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