The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

SERIES REVIEW: ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ reality game show fails to meet the hype from the 2021 original

Leanne+Wilcox+Plutnicki+%28center%29+and+her+son+Trey+Plutnicki+hug+each+other+after+both+pass+the+finish+line+in+a+game+called+Red+Light%2C+Green+Light+in+Episode+1+of+%E2%80%9CSquid+Game%3A+The+Challenge%E2%80%9D+on+Netflix.+
Image used with permission from Netflix
Leanne Wilcox Plutnicki (center) and her son Trey Plutnicki hug each other after both pass the finish line in a game called Red Light, Green Light in Episode 1 of “Squid Game: The Challenge” on Netflix.

With a second season of Netflix’s “Squid Game” set to be released sometime this year (the streaming service teased a 15-second clip in its “Next on Netflix 2024” video last month), fans who made the series so popular may rewatch the original.

And they can save a lot of their screen time by skipping Netflix’s reality TV version, titled “Squid Game: The Challenge.”

Produced by Studio Lambert and The Garden, “The Challenge” comprises 10 episodes, one more than the 2021 original that’s based on a set of challenges for its fictionalized characters. 

After viewing half of the 256-minute program, it’s clear that the reality-style version fails to create the suspense and drama needed to keep viewers interested in watching the remaining episodes.

According to a Friday, Dec. 1, article from netflix.com, 456 contestants out of approximately 81,000 applicants were chosen to join the 16-day filming of the show at Wharf Studios, London, starting in January 2023. Those interested in being on the reality series submitted a casting form, which requires basic information such as name, email, state of residence, nationality, photos of themselves from different angles and a one-minute video introducing themselves, why they want to be part of the series, game plans and what they would do if they got to win the $4.56 million cash prize. 

The idea to keep the number of players the same works because it carries the meaning of the key symbol of the story with the significance of 456 — the grand prize and the number of contestants. Having a lot of similarities such as the players wearing green outfits and having the same background music throughout the episodes is understandable knowing it’s a spin-off, but it hinders the viewers’ interest as it creates too many overlaps, making the show predictable without much freshness. 

The first episode begins with some of the players in casual clothes in different settings, showing how they are invited to the game as the car pulls up. Because the players clearly act it out without the seamless professional performance the fictional series provides, it seems awkward as if they are intentionally copying the plot.

Player 299 Spencer Hawkins traces the umbrella-shaped crease to separate the shape out of the dalgona cookie, a Korean retro candy made with melted sugar and baking soda, in Episode 2 of “Squid Game: The Challenge.” Evenly splitting the 188 remaining contestants into four groups — each designated to the cookie with a circle, triangle, umbrella and star — those who carve out the shape within the five-minute time limit without breaking the candy advance to the next round. (Image used with permission from Netflix)

Still, the producers include some interesting modifications. For example, instead of tug of war, the third episode features a more American game like WarShips; tests and challenges are added in between games to keep it fresh. 

Yet, the change fails to leave a pleasant surprise. Instead, omitting the tug of war leaves the audience disappointed about missing one of the most awaited scenes of the original plot. If the spin-off series were to have new games and unexpected replacements, it gives the impression that it would have been better to introduce an entirely new set of traditional Korean games, spotlighting more of the unknown games to expose the culture, rather than mildly changing some. 

It’s not worth watching a group of five contestants who volunteer to commit to a challenge called “chore” in the fifth episode. They end up working together to squeeze three jars worth of orange juice under a 30-minute time limit. That segment just doesn’t have much correlation to “Squid Game” and the unique Korean games that the series offered. 

The intense and deliberately scripted scenes from the original drama that captured viewers’ interest were definitely missing here. The “Squid Game” further explains each game by incorporating scenes representing significant childhood memories, but they’re replaced by players squeezing orange juice or cutting carrots, arousing disappointment in the depth of the plot. 

The special effects also fail. Instead of that gunshot noise that resonates the whole space, signaling elimination from “Squid Game,” we see an anti-climatic splat of black paint followed by a firing sound with contrastingly peaceful music. 

Obviously, the contestants who lose in this version cannot die, so they act out their collapse. Faking their demise definitely does not raise the intensity level.

Players walk in a single file line through the set of Netflix’s “Squid Game: The Challenge,” a reality TV version of the 2021 series that the streaming service released at the end of 2023. This replica set shows the producers’ efforts in making the sets and outfits exactly the same as the original. (Image used with permission from Netflix)

Moreover, the show is monotonous in general because of the documentary-style format, which has dull interviews in between the scenes. This contrasts especially with the original, which dramatically illustrates the personal backgrounds of the characters through professional acting and cinematography. The intense storyline implies heavy topics like capitalism’s vice in humanity through connections between the series of competitions and some of the main characters’ backgrounds, while “The Challenge” didn’t seem like it had much quality that contributed to the original’s popularity. 

Despite numerous red lights posed both within the series and behind the scenes, the recruitment of the second season of “Squid Game: The Challenge” opened via its website with the same form as the first already started, according to the Friday, Dec. 8, article from netflix.com. While the second season of “Squid Game” is set to release later in 2024, the sequel of the spin-off should be eliminated if it cannot make up with drastic changes in the production and edits to match the intensity of the original.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Accolade
$1000
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Sunny Hills High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Seowon Han, Spotlight Editor & Business Manager
After an exciting year as a part of The Accolade staff, junior Seowon Han returns as a spotlight editor and business manager. Han served as a cub reporter her freshman year in Journalism 1 and joined The Accolade as a copy editor the following year. She experienced writing for every section and covered a range of topics. This year, Han looks forward to maintaining her section with fresh and relevant themes and stories to keep the readers informed with accurate news. Outside of The Accolade, Han is involved with several clubs on campus as a cabinet member and plays the flute as part of the Symphonic Band. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to and playing music.
Donate to The Accolade
$1000
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Accolade Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *