On paper, it sounded like a great idea: a real-life “Squid Game” as a show. However, Netflix could now be in trouble due to lawsuits.
When “Squid Game” was released on Netflix in September 2021, no one could have predicted that the South Korean thriller series would strike a chord with the times. Even creator Hwang Dong-hyuk was not sure if his series about a deadly game for a large sum of money and one’s own life would resonate with the international audience. The concept itself was not new; there had already been works with similar themes, such as “Battle Royale,” “3%,” “Alice in Borderland,” or “The Hunger Games,” to name a particularly popular example. The prequel “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” from “The Hunger Games” series is currently playing in theaters.
However, “Squid Game” had a crucial advantage over the competition: simple, easily adapted children’s games. Due to the fact that they are easy to understand and therefore easy to imitate, a massive viral hype, especially on TikTok, emerged, turning the series into a global phenomenon. “Squid Game” remains the most-watched series on Netflix to this day with 2.205 billion streamed hours and 265 million views, surpassing even “Wednesday” by a significant margin.
While work on Season 2 has already begun, it is unlikely to be released before 2025. A reality show with the theme of “Squid Game” seemed to be just what Netflix executives needed to shorten the wait for fans and keep the title from fading into obscurity. “Squid Game: The Challenge” has been available on the streaming service since November 22, 2023, and is released weekly, with the finale scheduled for December 6, 2023.
With 456 participants, the format immediately set the world record as the largest show of all time, competing for a prize of $4.56 million. However, there were apparently significant problems on the set at the Cardington Studios on a former Royal Air Force base in Bedford, England: According to Deadline, during the filming of the reality show earlier this year, some participants suffered injuries.
Due to the sudden cold spell in the region, two people are said to have suffered hypothermia and nerve damage when reenacting the game “Red Light, Green Light,” known from the series. At least that’s what they claim, according to the law firm Express Solicitors, specializing in personal injury.
“Squid Game: The Challenge”: What is “Red Light, Green Light”? There may not be many who don’t know what the game “Red Light, Green Light” is, but for those who don’t: In the series, it is the first game. The rules are clear and simple.
As long as the giant girl doll at the other end of the room is singing a nursery rhyme, the participants are allowed to move forward to reach the goal behind the doll. This is the only way they can master the game and get to safety. However, once the nursery rhyme stops, everyone must stop. Anyone who moves even a little is shot on the spot. And: A time limit puts pressure on the participants; if they don’t make it to the finish line by the end, they are also eliminated.
In the reality show, of course, no one is shot. However, Netflix has already admitted that three participants needed medical attention after the first game. Reports of inhumane conditions and excessive risks for participants, some of whom allegedly collapsed during filming, raised concerns. The law firm representing some participants now states that everyone initially thought they were participating in something fun, but the injured did not expect to suffer as they did. Now they have sustained injuries after spending some time in painful, stressful situations in cold temperatures.
The British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had already warned the responsible production companies in February to adhere to safety conditions for the participants but had otherwise taken no further action. Whether a lawsuit will be filed is still pending, but it cannot be ruled out.