When the dystopian South Korean series Squid Game, created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, became such a phenomenon on Netflix, people were naturally prepared for a sequel. What they were not ready for was Squid Game: The Challenge, an equally dystopian reality series spin-off of the show.
Squid Game: The Challenge is very much what most people were afraid it would be. It is blatantly antithetical to everything Squid Game was trying to criticise about capitalism about humanity while simultaneously being utterly ridiculous and somewhat degrading.
These have nothing to do with the more severe allegations levied against the creators of the reality series, where several contestants have threatened to file a lawsuit against Netflix after being inflicted with unexpected injuries while filming.
Contestants on the reality series Squid Game: The Challenge have found themselves resorting to bizarre measures, from unconventional lip care to dramatic reactions, as they compete for a grand cash prize of $4.56 million. Here are just a few of the weirdest things contestants have done on the show so far:
When contestants used condom lube in lieu of chapstick
One episode involved some contestants using lubricated condoms to soothe chapped lips. Trey Plutnicki, aka Player 301 on the show, confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that this revelation is “100 per cent real.”
Despite this, Trey distanced himself from those who resorted to this peculiar solution when lotion and conditioner did not help. “There was lotion, there was conditioner, and those were the first two tries,” Trey told EW. “And after I tried those and they weren’t working, I was like, ‘Well, that’s all of our options because obviously we’re not going to use the condoms.’ And within a day, maybe a day and a half, all the condoms were gone. It was absurd. And it still didn’t work!”
Eventually, production supplied contestants with personalised lip balm, putting an end to this chapter of DIY lip care diaries on the show.
Dramatic faux deaths
Viewers have also noticed the over-the-top dramatic reactions of contestants when eliminated. While some fall over slowly, some others comically lean over upon elimination, reminiscent of the Squid Game contestants who were often shot to death upon each elimination.
The contestants are also fitted with exploding ink sacks that explode when they lose the game. This adds an extra element of theatricality that some viewers find entertaining, while others label it as “ridiculous” and “dramatic.”
Anxious exits and viral fame
Spencer Hawkins, aka Player 299, faced viral fame after a dramatic elimination during the Dalgona challenge. Tasked with cutting shapes from sugar cookies with nary but a needle, Hawkins struggled with the demanding task, ultimately breaking down in tears and gagging. The emotional outburst garnered over 80 million views on social media. Hawkins attributed the intense experience to the pressure of choosing the most challenging shape, an umbrella, for his group.
“I had a little bit of a history with anxiety,” Hawkins said in a TikTok video. “I didn’t expect anything weird to happen when I got on the show, but then I was put in a position where I needed to make a choice for myself and for dozens of other people that would affect whether they would receive millions of dollars.”
Participating in a public competition with anxiety issues is no small feat. We sure hope Hawkins finds a way to see the silver lining in the meltdown that led to his online virality.
In the meantime, you can watch Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix.