Reality Show Contestants Claim Injuries, ‘Inhumane’ Working Conditions 

28 Nov, 2023 Liz Carey


Los Gatos, CA ( – Contestants on the reality spinoff series “Squid Games: The Challenge” say they’ve suffered injuries on set.  

Based on the fictional “Squid Game,” a South Korean show on Netflix that garnered international attention in September 2021, “Squid Game: The Challenge” was filmed in Great Britain in January. In the series, 456 people come together to compete in various school yard games that have a deadly twist in order to be the last person standing and win $45.6 billion. In the reality series, 456 people compete to be the last person standing and win $4.56 million.  

According to some contestants though, they suffered painful injuries, including hyperthermia and nerve damage. Letters of claim have been sent to co-producer Studio Lambert seeking financial compensation for he injuries they received that they say were a result of poor health and safety standards on set.  

“We have sent letters of claim on behalf of contestants injured in this show," Express Solicitors CEO Daniel Slade said in a statement. "From what we’ve been told they pushed the boundaries of safety in the name of entertainment. Production companies need to ensure that health and safety standards on their shows don’t leave people at risk of harm.” 

In Great Britain, letters of claim precede any legal action being taken, so to notify any relevant parties that court proceedings may be filed against them. In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, a spokesperson for “Squid Game: The Challenge” said no lawsuit has been filed by any of the contestants.  

“We take the welfare of our contestants extremely seriously,” the television program spokesperson told the magazine.  

In the series, each game has life or death consequences. Slade said contestants did not expect to be injured as a result of their participation. 

"Contestants thought they were taking part in something fun and those injured did not expect to suffer as they did," Slade told the British tabloid The Sun. "Now they have been left with injuries after spending time being stuck in painful stress positions in cold temperatures. One client describes seeing someone faint, then people shouting for medics. We have a case where someone complains of hypothermia. One had his hands turn purple from the cold. Such injuries can have very serious long-term health implications. One of our clients complains of being given ill-fitting clothing despite the cold conditions.” 

In January, the show came under fire for filming the “Red Light, Green Light” game (where a large animated doll turns around to see who is frozen and eliminates those who are not) was filmed in freezing weather conditions that led to “serious injury,” including frostbite.  

At the time, Netflix, based in Los Gatos, Calif., denied the reports.  

"While it was very cold on set — and participants were prepared for that — any claims of serious injury are untrue,” the company said in a joint statement with the program.  

Executive producer Stephen Lambert told BBC News, “Everybody was warned that it was going to be cold, we took all the necessary steps to prepare them for that. Yes, a few anonymous people were unhappy about the fact they had been eliminated and it had been a cold, quite long experience. But it was no worse than many unscripted shows... when you're giving away a huge prize it is always going to be clear to us it was going to be a tough show to take part in." 

But executive producers John Hay, Toni Ireland, and Stephen Yemoh told EW that the claims were "not accurate." 

"It was a big, complicated shoot, and it was quite cold and it took quite a long time for all these adjudication reasons," Hay told the magazine about how they judged whether any of the  players moved when they were supposed to be "frozen" in the game. "But it's incredibly important to us to do these things safely and with due care for the welfare of our players. We did absolutely everything appropriate, and it was a very small number of people who were treated for medical issues, but some of the reports that were given anonymously by those who were eliminated were not accurate." 

Producers said the physical and mental wellbeing of the players was a priority during the shoot, and that mental healthcare professionals were on set throughout the filming process. Additionally, the studio said it provides aftercare , where the studio provides care for the contestants after filming right up until the show’s air date.  

The suit follows efforts by reality show stars to unionize. Spurred on by Bethenny Frankel of Real Housewives of New York, who called on other reality series stars to unionize to ensure they are treated fairly and valued, as well as paid for when channels stream their shows.  

Other reality stars have said they want to come together to stop reality show contestants from being exploited. Earlier this year “Love is Blind” contestants alleged the Netflix reality series fostered an environment that was “hell on Earth,” while others called the reality show’s atmosphere as “inhumane working conditions.” Still others have said reality shows gave them PTSD, withheld medications from them and caused them to break their sobriety, leading to illness, hangovers and injuries.  

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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