‘Squid Game’ reality show ‘cruel,’ contestants claim

Life appeared to imitate art on the set of a reality show based on the runaway Netflix series “Squid Game.”

Contestants participating in “Squid Game: The Challenge” told Rolling Stone competing in actual games inspired by a show about cruel and dangerous games amounted to a horrible experience. There are also allegations the competitions were rigged.

“It was just the cruelest, meanest thing I’ve ever been through,” one unidentified participant said.

One “fixed” racing game, according to that participant, pitted contestants treated “like horses” against one another in cold temperatures.

Another dissatisfied contestant hoping to win a $4.56 million prize blamed organizers’ alleged incompetence for “the torment and trauma” experienced by the show’s 456 participants. All involved signed confidentiality agreements.

Contestants in a high-stakes game of “Red Light, Green Light” claim to have spent nine hours in a frigid airport, where medics treated the injured. Netflix, insisting adequate safety measures were in place, said three of those people sought treatment for minor injuries on that “very cold set” for which they’d been prepared. Producers allegedly promised that game would take two hours.

Some participants allege Netflix producers predetermined which players they wanted to see advance — including people with big social media followings — then made sure they weren’t eliminated.

A couple participants claimed their plane tickets home were booked in advance for the day they were knocked out of the competition.

“It really wasn’t a game show,” one player said. “It was a TV show, and we were basically extras in a TV show.”

Participants told Rolling Stone they’re considering litigation against producers.

Netflix said in a statement they “care deeply about the health of our cast and crew” and the quality of the program. The streaming company added “Any suggestion that the competition is rigged or claims of serious harm to players are simply untrue” and said it employs an independent adjudicator to ensure fairness.

Filming reportedly concluded in the U.K. this week. “Squid Game” was Netflix’s most popular series in 2021. A second season is in the works.