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‘Squid Game’ Will Be a Player at the Winter TV Awards

Move over "Succession," there's a new twisted drama series in play.

"Squid Game"

“Squid Game”

YOUNGKYU PARK/Netflix

Each year, the most successful series translate guild accolades into Emmy gold with alarming consistency. That’s great for the shows in question — see Netflix’s “The Crown” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” — but it can give the season a certain “Groundhog Day” vibe.

This year will be different. This year, we have “Squid Game.”

Netflix’s surprise blockbuster series “Squid Game” will be eligible at next year’s Emmy Awards, not a sure thing given the show’s international production. However, this was not a Netflix acquisition; the streamer developed the series and shaped its domestic distribution plans with an eye toward meeting eligibility requirements for the Primetime Emmy Awards.

That said: Let the record show that Netflix confirmed to IndieWire that, while there is no Season 2 pickup yet, the show will compete in Drama Series categories, not Limited Series — where Netflix will already have the critically acclaimed “Maid” in competition.

With the 2022 Emmys nearly 11 months away, “Squid Game” has a long road ahead and the competitions that light the way may or may not subscribe to the same eligibility requirements that govern the Television Academy.

Writers Guild of America Awards

The Writers Guild of America, East and Writers Guild of America, West unite to distribute the WGA Awards to the year’s best scripts written by a union member. To our knowledge, “Squid Game” creator, writer, and director Hwang Dong-hyuk is not a current WGA member and the series will not be eligible. This is not unprecedented, as just two years ago Amazon Prime Video’s “Fleabag” missed out at the WGA Awards for the exact same reason: Creator and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge wasn’t a member.

"Squid Game"

“Squid Game”

Netflix

Directors Guild of America Awards

Like the Writers Guilds, the Directors Guild of America limits eligibility to directors who are members of the guild. This too, is not an unfamiliar phenomenon when it comes to television.

Often with series that originate or film entirely outside of the U.S., the directors employed may or may not be DGA members, but also might not be operating as a DGA signatory, which would render them ineligible for competition at the DGA Awards. That’s why Netflix’s “The Crown” has never been nominated for a DGA Award and what will also keep “Squid Game” from competition.

Further, initial investigation suggests that Dong-hyuk is not a DGA member, making “Squid Game” super-duper-double-ineligible. (This is not a thing.) Sources within Netflix have indeed confirmed to IndieWire that the series will not be in competition with regard to the Directors Guild Awards or the Writers Guild Awards.

Producers Guild of America Awards

But back to the good news. The Producers Guild of America has no such restrictions around their awards requiring membership, which makes “Squid Game” feel like a virtual lock with regard to a nomination as well as a potential contender when it comes to the win.

Screen Actors Guild Awards

How “Squid Game” fares with actors will be a fascinating process to watch. The Screen Actors Guild has no qualms about celebrating performances delivered in various languages, as seen by recent wins — admittedly on the film side — by Youn Yuh-jung for her supporting role in “Minari” and the cast of “Squid Game’s” spiritual forerunner “Parasite.”

It’s uncertain how that will translate — heh — to the acting guild’s reception to the show, as performers are not always the easiest to predict. For example, as “Squid Game” traverses this year’s awards season, its primary competition will almost certainly come in the form of HBO’s “Succession.” Now, while that might seem like a looming threat with other guilds, to date, “Succession” hasn’t garnered a single SAG nomination in either of its two seasons. Not even for cast.

Yes, the “Parasite” cast broke through with the actors, but none of the individual performers did. That might be what “Squid Game” encounters when these awards roll around. Recognition for the cast as a whole, as opposed to individual units.

Critics Choice Awards

Also, the Critics Choice Awards exist. Very much in the vein of trying to make “fetch” happen, the Critics Choice Awards are still plugging away, hoping to fill the yawning advertising void that was/is/was the Golden Globes.

“Squid Game” seems locked to at least pull a nomination in Drama Series, but very likely multiple, particularly as the Critics Choice Awards are known for their healthy number of nominees per category.

As gauche as it feels to keep comparing “Squid Game” to recent Korean-language successes in the film world — Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” and Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari — it’s difficult to grasp the scope of the series with regard to TV awards. Yes, “Minari” saw acting nominations for Steven Yeun, Youn Yuh-jung, and even a win for Alan Kim in the Young Actor/Actress category. Could “Squid Game” see a similar amount of nominations for acting? Sure. But “Parasite” only saw an acting nomination for its ensemble.

There’s very little precedent for non-English language series competing at awards shows because they’re so often shunted off into “international” categories. It’s possible “Squid Game” gets lost in the fray, but it’s just as likely that it sees a “Parasite”-like fervor that furthers the cause of a wider global TV landscape.

Golden Globes

NBC or no NBC, the Golden Globes are proceeding as usual despite being harshly censured over the past year over accusations of self-dealing and a lack of voting transparency, as well as being generally sketchy — and, until recently, for not having a single Black member in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s ranks.

The HFPA has always fancied themselves tastemakers and “Squid Game” seems like it would be just their style, at least as far as Drama Series goes. What remains unclear at this juncture is who will actually submit for the Golden Globes. Is it DOA or merely sidelined, and how much will studios and networks have to say in its future?

The Rest

Perhaps the best news of all when it comes to TV’s winter awards season is the fact that “Squid Game” is ready and raring to go with regard to all those other guilds that populate Hollywood. Costumers, makeup, sound design, art direction — all of them will have a chance to weigh in on the South Korean survival series that swept not just the nation, but the globe.

“Squid Game” is in the race. Let the games begin.

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