Emmys 2022: ‘Squid Game’ Becomes the First Non-English Language Series Nominated for Outstanding Drama Series

The Netflix blockbuster also set a bevy of other records for Asian nominees

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Holy dalgona! As expected, Netflix’s massively-consumed, Korean-mounted “Squid Game” scored a bounty of Emmy nominations on Tuesday morning, with a total of 14. It also managed to set some high-bar records for the achievement of Asian talent in the process.

In addition to the best-ever recognition of Asian actors being Emmy-nominated, with five of its cast members nominated in the acting categories (with one in the guest actress spot, no less), “Squid Game” also became the first non-English-language series ever recognized in either of the top two categories of the Emmy ceremony: Outstanding Drama Series or Outstanding Comedy Series.

Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk was recognized in both the writing and directing categories, a first for any Korean showrunner, and the cast recognized (Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon, Oh Yeong-Soo, Park Hae-Soo and Lee You-mi) are all the first-ever native Korean actors to be recognized by the Television Academy in their categories, with Lee You-mi also being the first-ever actress of Asian descent to be nominated in the Guest Actress category.

“Squid Game” has been widely considered a front-runner for this year’s Emmys and has a fair amount of television hardware accumulated to date, including citations from the Gotham Awards, AFI, a Golden Globe for veteran supporting actor Oh Yeong-soo and a pair of Screen Actors Guild wins for leading actors Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon — the latter in her first-ever acting role, no less.

While the Primetime Emmys typically consist entirely of English-language series, programs not in English are eligible if they are produced in the U.S. Programs produced outside the U.S. are eligible only if they are a co-production with an American company from before the start of production, and if they are designed to be shown on U.S. television. In the past, many English-language BBC productions have qualified under this rule, and “Squid Game” made the cut because Netflix was involved from the beginning of production.

Producers of U.S. and international co-productions have the option to enter their shows in the Primetime Emmys or the International Emmys, but they must choose one or the other. Netflix’s hugely popular, French-language caper thriller “Lupin,” for instance, was ineligible for the Primetime Emmys because the company opted to enter it at the International Emmys.

Here are the Emmy rules for submission for a foreign series:

“Foreign television production is ineligible unless it is the result of a co-production (both financially and creatively) between U.S. and foreign partners, which precedes the start of production, and with a purpose to be shown on U.S. television. Any production produced in the U.S. in a language other than English is eligible in the Primetime Emmys. For productions produced outside the U.S. as a co-production between U.S. and foreign partners, in a language that is substantially (i.e., 50% or more) in a language other than English, shall have the discretion to enter the production and its individual achievements in any category where they are eligible in the Primetime Emmy Awards competition or in the awards competition of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (“International Academy”), but not both.