Contestants on Netflix’s IRL remake of the ‘Squid Games’ have called out the conditions of the show, saying the games were rigged, they would starve for hours and that they are still dealing with injuries from the show.
‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ will air its season one finale this week after wrapping up filming early this year. Over 456 people from around the world joined the show, competing for a chance to win NZ$7.33 million - the largest cash prize in reality TV history.
Six contestants anonymously spoke to TheWrap about their shocking experiences during filming, accusing producers of rigging the games, not being prepared to feed everyone and allowing injuries to happen.
All the players that talked to TheWrap were eliminated in the first game: Red Light, Green Light. However, this was enough time to realise things were fishy.
First of all, temperatures at the filming location dropped to below 0 degrees calculus, leading to a few cases of hypothermia.
Producers also said the challenge would take around three hours and, when the giant doll was in ‘red light’ mode, contestants would only have to stay frozen for five minutes. In reality, the challenge lasted nine hours and contestants had to stay frozen for up to 45 minutes.
Having to stay still for so long, combined with the cold, reportedly led to 11 - 12 contestants fainting and other injuries.
“I see this person standing completely still and then all of a sudden they’ve dropped to their knees and they’ve dropped backwards and they just completely pass out,” one player said.
Another contestant said their arm “turned blue” during the challenge and is preparing to sue the production company.
There are also reports that producers pre-selected certain contestants to last longer throughout the series, regardless of their performance in challenges.
Contestants noticed how some of them had real microphones while others had fake microphones, some women were told not to wear makeup and then saw others that looked “camera-ready”, and some completed the Green Light challenge, only to still be eliminated.
“Right before [production] came back to record them crossing the finishing line, ‘Bop bop bop bop bop,” one contestant said. “They just kept dying like one by one.”
“We’re like, ‘What the f–k happened?’ There was clearly time left before they crossed it there. The doll was still singing.”
Players who hadn't made it past the finish line but remained frozen were also reportedly unfairly eliminated.
“There were many people where they would bring a Steadicam right in front of their faces while we were all frozen and then, as soon as the Steadicam was in front of them, their squid pack would go off,” one contestant said. “They didn’t move.”
Another example of alleged rigging comes against contestant No. 302, LeAnn Wilcox Plutniki who features prominently throughout the show, alongside her son, contestant no. 301.
One player says LeAnn came “nowhere near the finish line” of Red Light, Green Light, but still made it through to the next round.
Netflix shared a statement with TheWrap, stating that "all eliminations were checked by a team of independent, impartial adjudicators to ensure they were accurate and fair.”
Contestants were fed three times a day but many have complained that the food sucked. Others have gone so far as to say they did not receive the food that was promised to them and had to go to sleep hungry.
They were told everything would be provided to them but this was not the case.
“They were supposed to serve us. There are some people who did not get the chance to eat. It was just bad,” one contestant said.
After the first challenge finished, one person got back to accommodation only to find an "absolutely disgusting" pizza “sitting on the floor”
Others were told Maccas would be delivered to them but it never arrived or only arrived the next morning. “People went to bed starving,” another contestant said.
Studio Lambert, the show's production company, and Netflix have denied that certain players were preferred over others, said that only 2 people fainted, rather than 11 - 12, and that "ll appropriate health and safety measures were taken throughout the filming period."
Other contestants have said that they believe staff tried their best but were just underprepared.
“I just think they didn’t understand how long it was going to take to film an episode with 456 people,” one player said. “We just all wanted a fair shot at the $4.56 million purse, right?”
We felt like none of us were given a fair shot at it
There are also contestants saying shooting would be paused for days, leading to intense boredom and stunt doubles filled in for the glass bridge falling shots.
It's such a mammoth task of a show to produce, but safety needs to be paramount and, if these accusations are true, that was not the case.