Television Review: Squid Game: The Challenge

On paper, this seems like a terrible idea. “You know that game show where rich people watch poor people get killed? What if we did that for real?” Squid Game is great because of how horrific it is. How in the world would that even work?

Simple. Just make the people pretend to die, instead of actually die. Keep everything else (almost), but make it so people don’t have to get shot for the game to continue. Would it still be as tense and riveting?

The short answer is yes. For one thing, they put $4.56 million on the line. The game starts with 456 players. As each one is eliminated, the prize pool grows by $10,000. The math is easy. The last person standing gets all of it. Ken Jennings has won $4.5 million at Jeopardy, but the winner of this game would get it all at once, and they wouldn’t even have to phrase it as a question.

I initially was still skeptical. After all, money might be on the line, but that was really about it. In the show, the players have everything to gain, and everything to lose, since losing involves, you know, dying. I would have thought there would be some sort of a buy in, so the players at least had something more to lose than just the time it took to film the series. (And the psychological trauma of having endured the series.) In the end, it didn’t really matter. It was a show I couldn’t turn away from.

They use many of the same games from the show. You watch as it all unfolds, and they pick up different people and follow their progress, peppering in snippets of interviews they’ve had before the show started. (The interviews are to an empty room, just facing a camera. I think people ended up saying more to that empty camera than they would have if there’d been a real person in the room.)

Obviously I’m not going to spoil the show, but I’ll say I really enjoyed it, and I was highly entertained throughout. Very binge-worthy. (It’s got a 5.5 on IMDB, but that’s because a whole ton of people gave it a 1/10, I assume just rating it without watching it. Yes, it sounds like a bad idea, but it actually works.) 9/10 from me.

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