The South Korean series qualifies because, unlike other international shows, it wasn’t just imported from South Korea. Netflix co-produced, financed and provided creative direction for the survival drama. It qualifies because it was always intended to be distributed in the US, a Television Academy spokesperson told Variety.
Here’s the pickle: Non-English programs have historically had a tough time breaking into the Primetime Emmys. The Primetime Emmy Awards currently has no categories for non-English programs. The major winners have always been in English.
Notably, in 2020, Netflix’s Unorthodox, a German-US co-production that was shot both in English and Yiddish, scored eight nominations in the Primetime Emmy race, winning for best directing.
But what are Squid Game’s chances of taking home a major statue?
At the 2021 Emmys, just one series in a language other than English was reportedly submitted for Emmy consideration: Millennials, a Netflix comedy from Argentina. Even so, Variety reports it’s believed the show’s producers submitted the telenovela, not Netflix.
Yet, Squid Game is huge fare for Netflix.
The series is centered on a contest where 456 desperate players from different social classes compete for a life-changing 45.6 billion won prize. It’s already Netflix’s biggest non-English show and on track to overtake Bridgerton as the streamer’s biggest show ever,.
Then there’s the huge success of Bong Joon-ho’s. The South Korean black comedy thriller also spins a violent tale with a focus on class division. In 2020, , including best picture. It made history, becoming the first non-English language film to win the award.
Could Squid Game do the same by winning an Emmy? The Emmy Awards, Variety points out, are “much more competitive” than the Oscars, because of the sheer volume of eligible entrants.
Netflix could “test the Emmy waters” by first entering the show, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, into the winter awards season races where it’s eligible, Variety suggests. That could include the SAG Awards, Critics Choice Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and other guild awards.
A Netflix spokesperson told CNET, “We don’t have any details to share at this time related to submissions.”
In the end, Squid Game could settle for the International Emmys. Squid Game qualifies for the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards because it was produced internationally. According to the rules, it can’t enter both competitions.
The odds are stacked against Squid Game. Still, don’t put it past Squid Game to beat the most challenging TV contest of them all.