WHEN SQUID GAME premiered in 2021, the series immediately entered the cultural zeitgeist. Its provocative themes, suspenseful plot and horrific scenarios struck a chord with the general population, forcing us to ponder what it would be like to live in such a dystopian hellscape. Luckily—or perhaps unluckily depending on your perspective—we no longer have to wonder. Netflix has released the first trailer for Squid Game: The Challenge, a real-life reality show that pits its contestants against each other in similar contests and challenges to the original Netflix hit.
When books and comics are adapted into films, fans often approach with trepidation, fearful that the adaptation will tarnish the image of their beloved franchise. That likely won’t be the case with Squid Game. Fans could hardly expect a perfect replication of the original, but it appears the series’ creators are attempting to make the adaptation as faithful to its source material as possible—which could be a recipe for disaster, as the set has already been mired by controversy.
Controversy and morality aside, Squid Game: The Challenge is a certainty to draw sizeable viewership figures. Read on for everything you need to know about the upcoming series.
How will Squid Game: The Challenge work?
No, contestants will not actually be placed in increasingly dangerous life-threatening situations.
Assuming that was your most pressing question, let’s move onto the details of how the series will work. Squid Game: The Challenge will feature a whopping 456 contestants (a feat that has the series billed as the “biggest competition ever”) competing for a grand prize of USD $4.56 million (AUD $7.19 million) That’s a hefty sum, you can see why contestants weren’t scared off by the gruesome fates of the original shows cast.
The first trailer for the series depicts a handful of contests seen in the original show, including the iconic opening ‘red light, green light’ challenge, which felled a considerable chunk of contestants. Be assured, the competition won’t be a shot-for-shot remake. There are a few key differences in how the contest will work. For one, the trailer shows us that contestants will be able to vote each other out. So gory deaths won’t be the only means of elimination.
The official description for the series sheds more light on how the competition will work. “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.” This is starting to sound more like Survivor than Squid Game.
Where can you watch the trailer for Squid Game: The Challenge?
What is the controversy with Squid Game: The Challenge?
Sure, Squid Game: The Challenge hopefully won’t include any fatalities as the original, but the series has still generated its fair share of controversy nonetheless. Contestants of the series are alleging that they were “treated like animals” and “tortured” during the filming process. Contestants have also alleged that some of the challenges were “cruel” and “rigged”.
The claims of inhumane conditions refer specifically to the red light, green light challenge, where competitors said that, during filming, they had to stand in freezing weather for hours without moving. “It was like a war zone,” the contestants said. “Some people couldn’t move their feet because it was so cold… Some were crawling by the end. At least one was carried out on a stretcher.”
While the claims are shocking, presenting situations that would be more appropriate in the actual Squid Game universe, Netflix, and the series producers, have denied any wrongdoing. “While it was very cold on set—and participants were prepared for that—any claims of serious injury are untrue.”
Isn’t this all a little ironic?
Well, yes. It seems some of the subtext of the original Squid Game has gone right over the heads of the new series’ creators. In case you missed it, here’s a quick refresher: the original Squid Game has been widely interpreted as a thinly veiled criticism of the capitalist system, highlighting the notion that under such an exploitative and inequitable system, people will do anything, including risking their lives, for money.
Series creator Hwang Dong-Hyuk has previously explained his motivations for writing Squid Game. “I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life,” he said.
Throughout Squid Game, the audience becomes increasingly aware that the competition is not being carried out as part of some wildly popular reality show. Instead, characters’ deaths are simply for the pleasure of a few masked individuals, representing the wealthy elite. Now, in our own universe, we can expect hundreds of regular people putting themselves through comparable hardships for money. With that in mind, it’s hard to ignore the similarities between the dystopian world of Squid Game and our own.
The new competition will reiterate the idea that people really will do anything for money, proving that the issues of Squid Game are not fictionalised and hyperbolic reimaginations of our society, but real-life, pressing threats that people grapple with every day. Presumably, the new series will feature hundreds of competitors willing to subject themselves to conditions where they’re “treated like animals”, all for a chance at a life-changing prize. Look on the bright side though, at least there won’t be any actual fatalities.
When will Squid Game: The Challenge be released?
Squid Game: The Challenge will have ten episodes and will premiere on Netflix on November 22nd, 2023. Until then, why not tide over your hunger for dystopian drama with a rewatch of the original Korean series?