Game centers

Can ‘Squid Game’ numbers add up to the Emmys?

“Squid Game” has all kinds of impressive numbers on its side. Will that be enough to fuel the long road to the Emmys?

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

On February 27, the South Korean survival thriller 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 nomination at the SAG Awards and Jung Ho-yeon became the second Asian-Korean actress to do the same.

The series itself centers on Seong Gi-hun (Lee), a debt-ridden ex-driver so unlucky he better have no luck at all. Living with his elderly mother, 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 childish games against hundreds of other desperate, debt-ridden people for the chance to win 45.6 billion won – the South Korean currency equivalent at approximately US$39 million. If he wins, he continues in the competition. If he loses, he will pay with the only thing he has left of value: his life.

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

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

1.65 billion

Netflix announced in November 2021 that viewers spent a collective 1.65 billion hours watching “Squid Game” in its first 28 days of release. If you have trouble understanding this number, keep in mind that a typical calendar year has 8,760 hours.


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

Two (so far)

Although 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 this, saying in November that new episodes had been ordered, but there were no suggestions on when more could be expected from the series.

More than 22

Since the start of television’s winter awards season late last year, “Squid Game” has garnered nominations across the board. No less than 22 awards bodies have recognized the series, including 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 industry-wide popularity suggests good things are moving forward in Emmy season.

Six (and counting)

As mentioned earlier, “Squid Game” is slowly but surely picking up the pace in the race for rewards, especially when it comes to wins. At this point, the series has won three Screen Actors Guild Awards (Male Actor in a Drama Series for Lee, Female Actress in a Drama Series for Jung, and Stuntman), a Golden Globe Award (Supporting Actor for Oh Yeong-su ), the Gotham Award for groundbreaking long-running series, as well as the AFI’s Special Honor for “works of excellence that do not meet the criteria of the Institute of American Motion Pictures and Television”.

But that number is only going to grow as there are still plenty more ceremonies to come in TV’s winter awards season.

Register: Stay up to date with the latest film and TV news! Sign up for our email newsletters here.