Former contestants of Netflix’s upcoming reality competition series “Squid Game: The Challenge” have accused the competition of having “rigged” games with “cruel” conditions.
The competition, which is based on director Hwang Dong-hyuk’s hit survival drama series “Squid Game,” features 456 players competing for $4.56 million, the largest cash prize in reality TV history.
Premiering on the streaming platform sometime this year, filming began on Jan. 23. Contestants were woken up in the early-morning hours and brought to Cardington Studios, a former Royal Air Force base located north of London.
According to previous reports, players were forced to compete in the show’s “Red Light, Green Light” game in below-freezing temperatures.
The inhumane conditions reportedly resulted in at least 10 people collapsing, with three people being treated for mild medical conditions.
“It was just the cruelest, meanest thing I’ve ever been through,” a former contestant told Rolling Stone. “We were a human horse race, and they were treating us like horses out in the cold racing and [the race] was fixed.”
“All the torment and trauma we experienced wasn’t due to the game or the rigor of the game,” another player added. “It was the incompetencies of scale — they bit off more than they could chew.”
Netflix, along with production partners Studio Lambert and the Garden, previously disputed the recent claims in a statement.
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We care deeply about the health and safety of our cast and crew, and invested in all the appropriate safety procedures. While it was very cold on set — and participants were prepared for that — any claims of serious injury are untrue.
Some contestants were also reported to have allegedly suffered other injuries and health issues, including a herniated disc, a torn knee tendon, pneumonia and an ear infection.
Besides the freezing conditions, former players complained about the games being “rigged” in a new interview with Rolling Stone.
The players, who cited their NDAs in speaking to the outlet anonymously, claimed that Netflix had already chosen some contestants, many of whom were Instagram or TikTok influencers, to advance in the games regardless of if they won or lost.
They also reportedly noticed some players who were fully equipped with microphones being brought to a different area to be filmed before the games started. Cameras would then follow the pre-selected players as they mingled with over players.
As for a majority of the eliminated contestants, the players claimed that they were given nonfunctional microphones to hang around their necks.
“It really wasn’t a game show. It was a TV show, and we were basically extras in a TV show,” a contestant told Rolling Stone.
“Instead of Squid Game, [they] are calling it ‘Rigged Game.’ Instead of Netflix, they’re calling it ‘Net Fix,’ because it was clearly obvious,” another player said.
Two former contestants said that they and some other former players are looking into filing a lawsuit against the co-production studios for workplace safety violations, negligence and false pretenses.
“People broke their lease to be on this show,” a participant told Vice.
People quit their jobs. That’s the part to me that was sad. They made it seem like we all truly had a fair shot to actually win this money. It was already scripted. They already knew the people they wanted in the next round. That’s the part to me that was f*cked up.
“The funny thing is equality and fairness was the main theme of the original ‘Squid Game,’” another contestant said.