Netflix's Squid Game seems like forever ago, but Google is telling me the first episode only aired a year ago. The Korean drama, created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, became a huge success for Netflix, becoming a global phenomenon as it topped charts in territory after territory and capturing the cultural zeitgeist at a time when large swathes of the planet were dealing with the resulting restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Such was its success that on Halloween we saw hundreds of people all around the world dressed in the recognisable tracksuits the contestants wore in the show. YouTubers decided to copy the show's format. And, of course, Netflix commissioned a second series. But there's also a reality show Netflix is working on, based on the games featured in the show, only this time (we hope) no one dies if they fail.
Squid Game: The Challenge is a Netflix reality competition that's looking for 456 real players to enter the game in pursuit of a "life-changing cash prize". How much is Netflix dangling in front of people? A cool $4.56 million. The casting call has opened and is open to Americans, Brits, and countries beyond.
Under a Tweet for the casting call-out Mr. Beast responded: "I wonder if they'll accept my application." The YouTuber spent hundreds of thousands of dollars recreating the show's games and the resulting video has accrued 288 million views at the time of writing.
Perhaps to reassure no death will be handed out in this version of Squid Game, the description on the casting website says, "the stakes are high, but in this game the worst fate is going home empty-handed". The show will be notable as it will feature the largest cast in reality TV history as 456 real players will take part in Netflix's "biggest ever social experiment".
"This supersized unscripted show turns the scripted world of the drama into reality. Real-life players will be immersed in the iconic Squid Game universe and will never know what's coming next," the casting call site reads. "Here they'll compete in a series of heart-stopping games in order to become the sole survivor and walk away with a life-changing cash prize". Then, there's a disclaimer attached to 'sole survivor' that says all players will leave unscathed.
It ends: "With a fortune up for grabs, who will be an ally, who will you trust, and who will you betray in this ultimate test of character?"
Those successfully cast will have to set aside time for around four weeks of shooting in early 2023, so don't expect the show to air until after spring next year. But it does make you wonder how this reality show will comment on the state of capitalism in the twenty-first century.