The fifth season of “Love Is Blind” will officially be premiering in September, Netflix announced Wednesday during its first upfront. It will then be followed two months later by the streamer’s controversial “Squid Game” reality show.
“Later this year we’ll also debut our most ambitious competition series ever. ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ has 456 real players competing for $4.56 million — the largest lump sum cash prize in the history of reality television,” vice president of unscripted and documentary series Brandon Riegg said during the presentation.
During Netflix’s upfront, Riegg highlighted the returns of “Queer Eye” and “Selling Sunset.” He also revealed that “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” “Fully Swing” and “Break Point” would all be returning for future seasons. Of those three sports-focused docuseries, only “Formula 1’s” future was unknown prior to the upfront. “We have more coming with the NFL and FIFA plus profiles of athletes, like the one and only David Beckham, just to give you a sense of what’s in store,” Riegg said.
“Love Is Blind” debuted its fourth season in March. The installment was a hit for the streamer, generating countless tweets and TikToks. But for all the views it brought Netflix, it also sparked a substantial backlash. As Season 4 was still airing new episodes, reports of questionable mental health practices started to emerge from behind-the-scenes, and hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey were heavily criticized by fans. Yet those complaints are nothing compared to the ones that have haunted “Squid Game: The Challenge.”
The reality competition series was first ordered in June of 2022, less than a year after the premiere of “Squid Game.” Shortly after the series began filming in early 2023, medics were called to production during a game of “Red Light, Green Light.” In part due to Britain’s cold snap at the time, fewer than five constants were injured. It’s far from a shot to the head, but it was a distinct echo of the real “Squid Game” — a fictional universe where desperate people put themselves in harm’s way for the chance to win a life-changing amount of money. A select group of contestants also told Rolling Stone the series was “cruel” and “rigged.”
Netflix, Studio Lambert and The Garden have since responded to these claims, saying in a statement, “Any suggestion that the competition is rigged or claims of serious harm to players are simply untrue. We’ve taken all the appropriate safety precautions, including after care for contestants – and an independent adjudicator is overseeing each game to ensure it’s fair to everyone.”