Netflix is facing the kind of challenge it's probably never faced before with the prospect of making another season of Squid Game.
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The odds for a Squid Game Season 2 depend on a wide variety of factors. There’s budget, momentum, and audience interest — all no-brainers given how quickly the show smashed viewership records worldwide. But a magical fourth ingredient is keeping fans from being treated to an immediate followup: availability. The creator of Squid Game reportedly takes three times as long writing a single TV episode. Showrunner Hwang Dong-hyuk told Patrick Frater of Variety he needed six months to write and rewrite the first two episodes of Squid Game to perfection.
The reclusive 50-year-old rose to fame writing Silenced, Miss Granny, and The Fortress — all feature films — and isn’t used to a per-episode television format. Dong-hyuk consulted with friends, but insisted on handling the leg work nonetheless. And without assistants or an active writers’ room, arriving at a reasonable deadline (especially for Squid Game Season 2) proves impossible. “I’m not great at teamwork,” he tells Frater. Half a bottle of soju used to keep his productivity levels up, but aging tells a different story.
Dong-hyuk reportedly enjoys the hype surrounding Squid Game Season 2, but can’t deny actually writing it is easier said than done. The show as a whole took 13 years to flesh out, having originated the concept as early as 2008. The Seoul native admits a prospective second season barely has any meat on it in the first place to justify a part two. “I don’t have well developed plans for Squid Game 2,” he adds. “It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors.”
Squid Game has broken barriers in recent weeks and Netflix knows it. The success of other local-language content proves the streamer continues to appeal to non-American creators, with Squid Game being the quintessential cherry on top after years of hard-earned risks and constant experimentation. Netflix has always been in the market for foreign originals and shows like Money Heist and Dark have only served to rightly elevate that bar. Speaking of Netflix Korea, head of global TV Bela Bajaria claims Squid Game is profitable enough to compel executives to make their peace with Dong-hyuk’s unconventional storytelling methods, regardless of how painstakingly frustrating the path ahead might seem. Season 2 is inevitable and Bajaria doesn’t mind waiting to see it.
Netflix’s commitment to working closely with Dong-hyuk — accepting his quirks and myriad personal demands, and developing a second season to fruition, however long it takes — is a testament to the streamer’s dedicated creators-first policy where artistry commands all. And Bajaria is willing to move mountains and give Dong-hyuk whatever he requires to get Squid Game Season 2 going: funds, manpower, and time a.k.a. the benefit of a flexible schedule. “He has a film and other things he’s working on,” she tells Vulture on September 30. “We’re trying to figure out the right structure for him.”
While it’s certainly not unheard of to go solo on any TV project, most shows enter the pipeline with a whole crew in tow. Even the most independent showrunners have assistants, with many boasting a packed writers’ room replete with only the greatest screenwriting talents. Dong-hyuk directs everything he writes, however — another obvious handicap keeping him from churning out stories faster. In a traditional setup, the task of directing episodes is shipped off to other people; if the showrunner is himself a director, he commonly only handles the first and last episode, while staff helms everything else split down the middle. Though Dong-hyuk claims to be willing to hand off part of the responsibility of telling Squid Game Season 2 to somebody else, a persistent lone wolf like him may not acquiesce on the day itself so easily.
Patterned after seinen manga series Battle Royale and Shinobu Kaitani’s Liar Game, Squid Game is a survival drama that pits 256 debt-ridden souls against each other in a children’s game where failure means death. Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote and directed the nine-part series. He is already in talks to develop a Season 2. Squid Game is currently streaming on Netflix.