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Can the ‘Squid Game’ Numbers Add Up to Emmy Awards?

"Squid Game" has all kinds of impressive numbers on its side. Will it be enough to fuel the long road to the Emmy Awards?

Lee Jung-jae in "Squid Game"

Lee Jung-jae in “Squid Game”

Noh Juhan | Netflix

In the months since its September debut, Netflix’s “Squid Game” has captured the imaginations and conversations of individuals worldwide and that same fervor is now spilling over into awards season.

On February 27, the survival thriller from South Korea had a historic night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, as Lee Jung-jae became the first male actor from Asia and Korea to receive an individual SAG Award nomination and Jung Ho-yeon became the second actress of Asian as well as Korean descent to do the same.

The series itself centers around Seong Gi-hun (Lee), an indebted former chauffeur so down on his luck, he’d be better off having no luck at all. Living with his elderly mother, growing estranged from his young daughter, he takes advantage of an opportunity offered by a mysterious stranger. All he has to do is play a few children’s games against hundreds of other desperate, debt-ridden individuals for an opportunity to win 45.6 billion Won — South Korean currency that equals roughly $39 million U.S. dollars. If he wins, he continues in the competition. If he loses, he’ll pay with the only thing he has left with any value: his life.

Written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, “Squid Game” takes a long and hard look at economic inequality and man’s inhumanity towards man and delivers a treatise on both by juxtaposing ultraviolence with the bright, inviting colors and schoolyard games of childhood.

But if words can’t convince you of the show’s awards ascendence, then let’s talk numbers instead.

1.65 Billion

Netflix announced in November 2021 that viewers had spent a collective 1.65 billion hours watching “Squid Game” in its first 28 days of release. If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around that figure, keep in mind that a typical calendar year has 8,760 hours in it.

19

For the last two years, viewers have been able to see Netflix-calculated Top 10 lists allowing subscribers to see what media was currently popular on the streamer. According to Netflix’s numbers, “Squid Game” spent 19 weeks, nearly five months, in the weekly Top 10.

Two (so far)

Though official word seemed to take a curiously long time to surface, given the response to the series, Netflix confirmed in January 2022 that “Squid Game” would return for a second season. Hwang had previously confirmed as much, saying in November that new episodes had been commissioned, but there’s been nary a whiff of a suggestion on when more of the show might be expected.

Over 22

Since TV’s winter awards season began late last year, “Squid Game” has been raking in nominations across the board. No less than 22 awards bodies recognized the series, including the American Cinema Editors, Art Directors Guild, Cinema Audio Society, Costume Designers Guild, Motion Picture Sound Editors, Producers Guild of America, and SAG. The show’s widespread popularity throughout the industry suggests good things moving ahead into Emmy season.

Six (and counting)

As previously mentioned, “Squid Game” is slowly but surely picking up speed in the overall awards race, particularly with regards to victories. At this point, the series has won three Screen Actors Guild Awards (male actor in a drama series for Lee, female actor in a drama series for Jung, and stunt ensemble), one Golden Globe Award (actor in a supporting role for Oh Yeong-su), the Gotham Award for breakthrough longform series, as well as earning special distinction from AFI for “works of excellence that fall outside of the Institute’s criteria of American film and television.”

But that number will only go up as there are still many ceremonies in TV’s winter awards season yet to come.

 

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