Netflix plans Squid Game reality TV show with $4.56m cash prize

Netflix hit series inspires show claiming largest cast and lump cash prize in reality TV history – but without killings.

A scene from South Korea's "Squid Game" Season one.
Squid Game, Netflix's most watched series, features cash-strapped contestants in South Korea who play childhood games for a chance to win life-changing sums of money, and survive the game [File: Youngkyu Park/Netflix/AFP]

Netflix is casting for a newly announced reality TV show, Squid Game: The Challenge, the company said in a statement.

The streaming giant said the programme, inspired by its most-watched series Squid Game, will have the “largest cast and lump cash prize in reality TV history”, with 456 participants competing for $4.56m.

However, unlike in the South Korean fictional series, individuals will not be risking their lives for the money, and “the worst fate is going home empty-handed”, Netflix said.

“Squid Game took the world by storm with Director Hwang’s captivating story and iconic imagery. We’re grateful for his support as we turn the fictional world into reality in this massive competition and social experiment,” said Brandon Riegg, vice president of Unscripted and Documentary Series at Netflix.

The reality show will be filmed in the United Kingdom and is currently only casting English speakers. The 10-episode reality competition will include games inspired by the original show, as well as new additions, Netflix said.

The original series, released in September 2021, told the story of cash-strapped contestants who play childhood games for a chance to win a life-changing sum of money – and to survive the game itself. The first season holds the record as Netflix’s most popular series of all time, with more than 1.65 billion hours viewed in its first 28 days, the company said.

The 456 participants is a reference to the fictional series, which featured 456 players – with its main protagonist Seong Gi-hun referred to as Player 456.

While some fans celebrated the announcement of a reality TV show, others condemned it as “completely missing the point” of the original series – a social critique of capitalistic society.

One of YouTube’s top US creators, MrBeast, did an unofficial iteration of this idea by recreating aspects of the South Korean drama’s set and hosting games featured in the show, like Red Light, Green Light. The YouTuber also opted out of the killing aspect but strapped a device to all 456 players that mimicked a bullet shot when a player was ruled out.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, director and writer Hwang Dong-hyuk announced that season 2 of Squid Game had been approved, saying: “It took 12 years to bring the first season of Squid Game to life last year. But it took 12 days for Squid Game to become the most popular Netflix series ever.”

However, the hit show has been accused of misogyny over its portrayal of women, leading some South Korean women to boycott the show.

Recently, Netflix suffered the first subscriber loss in a decade that erased about $40bn of its stock market value.

Source: News Agencies