When Netflix announced its reality game show Squid Game: The Challenge:It immediately drew the ire of fans who sat through the original twisted South Korean thriller, about a group of poor people recruited to participate in a series of deadly games for millions in prize money, and thought: How can this end well?
However, the ambitious competition managed to find 456 contestants willing to compete for the $4.56 million prize, earning the show the right to boast the largest cast and prize money in television history. But the first day of filming was barely over last Monday when rumors began to spread about how the show’s production was a total disaster.
“It was just the cruelest, meanest thing I’ve ever been through,” says one former participant. Rolling Stone. “We were a human racetrack and they treated us like horses in a cold race and [the race] fixed.”
“All the agony and trauma we went through was not related to the game or the rigors of the game,” adds another former player. “It was the inability to scale. they bit off more than they could chew.”
Four former players detailed their experiences Rolling Stone, confirming earlier reports that contestants were forced to play the show’s Red Light, Green Light game in inhumane conditions, spending up to nine hours inside a frozen airport hangar, unable to move for 30 minutes, with medics rushing people who couldn’t withstand extreme cold. All asked not to be named, citing their NDAs.
Netflix previously said in a statement that the three had sought medical attention for minor conditions, but defended the safety of the production, saying it had “implemented all appropriate safety procedures. While it was very cold on set and the cast was prepared for it, any claims of serious injuries are untrue.” (The broadcaster referred us to their previous statement when reached for comment.)
But sources claim that Netflix and the show’s co-producing studios, Studio Lambert and The Garden, downplayed the severity of the hellish day. In addition, they believe that the news coverage has missed the main point of their complaints. that the game seemed rigged at first. (Studio Lambert did not respond to a request for comment; The Garden referred our inquiry to Netflix.)
Former players claim that some contestants, some of whom were TikTok and Instagram influencers, appeared to be pre-selected to advance to the next round regardless of the outcome of the first game, and were completely talked out, while most contestants : eliminated contestants had fake microphones around their necks. One former player claims the rules were bent to boost a rival’s story, while another says they witnessed a suspended player being brought back into the game.
“It wasn’t really a game show. It was a TV show and we were basically extras on the TV show,” explains one.
Three former players describe what participants now call “the 38-second massacre,” when a large group of participants crossed the finish line with time left on the clock, meaning they had successfully advanced to the next round. However, as they waited for producers to view the footage and shoot the drone from the round, minutes later they were bled and told they had been eliminated despite making it to the finish line. “They went crazy,” recalls one contestant.
Two contestants say that when they got their original flight to London, return tickets were already booked. It just so happened that their flights were scheduled right after they finished elimination. “Instead Squid Game:, [they] it’s called “Rigged Game”. Instead of Netflix, they call it ‘Net Fix’ because it was blatantly obvious,” adds one former player.
Filming for the reality competition series began last Monday, with the players being woken early in the morning and taken by bus from their London hotel to Cardington Airport, a former Royal Air Force base, about two hours away. It was an unexpectedly chilly day, and in the large metal hangar with concrete floors, one source said it was closer to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius).
Although the cast was dressed with two layers of thermals, two pairs of socks, plus these Squid Game: tracksuit, contestants claim it wasn’t adequate clothing to keep them warm. (Sources say the arm and leg warmers given to the players were removed before the game started.)
Producers allegedly said the game was only supposed to last two hours, but former players say they were on set for up to nine hours, unable to move for a 30-minute set, feeling lost in their arms and legs. Their only reprieve came in the form of a roughly seven-second period when they tried to get closer to the finish line, only to freeze in place and wait another 30 minutes as producers took drone footage, reviewed the footage and decided who was eliminated.
“I’m shaking and talking about how I’m on top of Everest and I’m not shaking anything,” one recalls.
The icy conditions caused at least 10 people to collapse during the game, sources said, with medics screaming as people fell and convulsed on the ground. One claims it took medics years to get to the players because producers were worried the camera footage would be spoiled. As a solution, masked men in pink jumpsuits were brought out onto the floor in black coffins and positioned to block the medics attending to the fallen player while the rest of the contestants remained frozen in place.
With the life-changing money, former participants say they felt trapped, fearing they would be left out of the game if they moved to help. “People were beating themselves up, including me, because you’re a girl jerking off, and we’re all standing there like statues. On what planet is that even humane? asks one of the former participants. “Obviously you would jump in and help. this is what our human nature is for most of us. But it is absolutely a social experience. It played on our morale and it is sick. It’s absolutely sick.”
“There’s $4.5 million up for grabs and if you move, you’re out,” adds another. “I noticed many people with the idea that they are going to change their family’s life. These people were ready to die. Someone says: “I’m going home with this, I don’t care what it takes.” I think the producers wanted that. They wanted people not to think about their health, not to think about their safety.”
One player says he suffered a herniated disc and a torn knee ligament. “My legs went completely numb,” he explained, adding that he fell down the stairs while trying to go to the bathroom after being sent off because he couldn’t feel his legs and feet. Another player says he has developed pneumonia and an ear infection, and two other players were coughing during their chat. Rolling Stonesaying they also got colds after competing.
Beyond the harsh conditions, former participants claim to have witnessed clear signs of players being pre-selected to advance to the next round. One said they only noticed players who were fully voiced being taken to film before the game started, with cameras following them as they mingled with other mic players. The two said they saw some contestants clearly move when they should have been frozen but not removed. One claims they saw a contestant get kicked out, only to be added back into the game.
Another says he was fired with five seconds left on the clock at the end of a grueling nine hours. But while she was waiting to be escorted off the set, she says she noticed cameras pointed at a contestant who was playing with her mother. “This kid is sitting at the finish line and he’s crying and the cameras are on him and he’s waiting for his mother. They added [more time] on the clock so he could go through because he was one of the people they wanted on the show.”
Two former contestants confirmed that some players, including themselves, were seeking legal advice to determine whether there were grounds for a case against the production studios for security breaches, negligence and false pretenses. (Co-produced by Studio Lambert, behind popular reality shows such as The frame, Naked attraction and: The traitors, has previously faced demands that employees work in “inhumane” conditions. Staff in the UK A box of glasses In 2021, they claimed they worked excruciatingly long hours and had to go without breaks.)
In response to the irony that contestants should have known better when they signed up for a game based on a deadly TV series, former players say they were assured every step of the way that the show would be safe, fun, and most importantly, fair. chance to win life-changing money. “It’s not like we signed up Naked and scared or Savedwhere you’re going to eat ants and it’s going to be grim, it wasn’t a game,” claimed one.
“The funny thing is,” suggests another participant, “the main theme of the original was equality and justice. Squid Game:“.