Following the enormous success of Squid Game, Netflix greenlit its own reality game show inspired by the South Korean series. Much like the show, 456 contestants are expected to compete in reflections of the deadly contest in hopes of winning $4.56 million USD (around $6.07 million CAD). However, the production of this series has been said to be nothing short of disastrous.
According to contestants (who chose to remain anonymous when speaking to Rolling Stone), the Squid Game reality game show is rigged and working conditions are intense. In an extensive report, contestants recount their experience being recruited and what it was like on set.
Squid Game: The Challenge is the official name of the game show and filming began last Monday. The show is being co-produced by Studio Lambert and The Garden, who recruited contestants through a variety of means. Some applied after seeing targeted ads on social media. It’s alleged that others, including TikTok influencers, were pre-selected. A former participant speaking to Vice said that they underwent a background check, had a physician sign off on a medical assessment and were told by a psychologist that the experience would be intense.
Production of the show is being held in England. All 456 participants were reportedly expected to be available between two to four weeks, depending on how long they lasted in the mock version of the deadly games. Participants were settled into a London-based hotel and fitted with a green bracelet. Studio Lambert is said to have issued detailed onboarding procedures, COVID-19 tests, and orientation videos. However, participants were strictly forbidden to speak to one another while in the hotel and travel to the set via bus. Production staff monitored the actions and reprimanded anyone breaking this rule.
Adding to this, the accommodations on site of productions sound akin to the Fyre Festival. Participants were taken to a freezing airplane hangar at Cardington Airfield. Here, they were enacting a version of ‘Red Light, Green Light.’ It’s alleged that the hangar felt as cold as -10 degrees Celsius and this segment lasted as long as nine hours. However, producers allege filming only took two hours. Participants were also apparently served cold breakfast sandwiches and “weak coffee.”
However, it wasn’t until many participants began breaking the ‘no communications’ rule that a bigger picture was painted. In a holding room, contestants began noticing that certain people were given microphone packs that worked. Others were given a pack that wasn’t even functional. It’s alleged that some contestants were pre-selected to advance despite what happened in the actual game. One specific contestant claims an eliminated player was actually put back into the game.“It really wasn’t a game show. It was a TV show, and we were basically extras in a TV show,” one source explains to Rolling Stone.
Thus, Squid Game: The Challenge earned an internal moniker of “Rigged Game.”
Once it became time to shoot the Red Light, Green Light game, participants were given hand and foot warmers and a fake blood pack. The latter of which was used to mimic the deaths eliminated participants experienced in the series. When filming began, foot warmers were taken away from the contestants. As the game progressed, many participants were stuck in place for upwards of 30 minutes, unable to move due to the game’s rules.
The freezing conditions are said to have led to at least 10 people collapsing during the game. In a horrifying mirror image of the Squid Game series, other contestants couldn’t offer their help due to the risk of being eliminated. It’s alleged that as people fell, some began to convulse on the ground. Medics were then sent to the site. Rather than forego filming, masked production members in jumpsuits made their way onto the field with black coffins and blocked the medics.
“People were beating themselves up, including myself, around the fact that you’ve got a girl convulsing and we’re all stood there like statues. On what planet is that even humane?” one contestant said in the report.
More evidence supporting the pre-selected contestants and their “storyline” was noticed during filming. It’s alleged that some contestants who had an operational microphone clearly moved and were not eliminated. Others claim that they were told they had been eliminated despite not moving.
At the time of writing, Studio Lambert and The Garden have not commented on the allegations. Before production even began, many questioned whether Netflix even saw the irony in greenlighting a game show like this given the themes of the series. Currently, there is no release date set for the 10-episode reality series.
Image credit: Netflix
Source: Rolling Stone