How ‘Squid Game’ could pull off SAG Awards upset: It’s ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Parasite’ rolled into one

Squid Game” has been an unlikely phenomenon for Netflix. The nine-episode series is a Korean-language social commentary about class, inequality, and exploitation, but it has taken the world by storm. Despite being a Korean production, it’s eligible for awards here in the US, including the SAG Awards, where the series is a contender for best TV drama ensemble. And it could easily win.

As of this writing, “Succession” is the front-runner to take top honors, according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users. In fact, the HBO drama has unanimous support from the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed thus far, as well as all of the Top 24 Users who had the best predictions scores when betting on last year’s SAG Award nominees for TV. This is despite the fact that “Succession” wasn’t nominated for a single SAG Award for either of its two previous seasons. But it’s not uncommon for SAG-AFTRA members to be late to the party. Voters also snubbed “Homeland” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” before those shows became established awards phenomenons.

“Squid Game,” meanwhile, has climbed up to seventh place since we added it to our predictions center, with a couple of our Experts now betting on it to be nominated (Gold Derby’s own Joyce Eng and Kaitlin Thomas) and two of our Editors saying it will win (Matt Noble and myself). Indeed, if it gets in, there could be no stopping it. Nominations are decided by a couple thousand randomly selected members who serve as the nomination committee. But winners are decided by SAG-AFTRA as a whole, and there are well over 100,000 members. So popularity makes a big difference.

We’ve seen many instances of populist hits prevailing at these awards, including both films (“The Help,” “Hidden Figures,” “Black Panther”) and TV shows (“CSI,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Orange is the New Black”). Netflix in particular has such accessibility and reach that it has come to dominate these awards in recent years (it won almost half of the TV categories this past year, as well as the film ensemble prize for “The Trial of the Chicago 7”). So when one of their shows becomes a phenomenon, watch out. That’s reminiscent of how “Stranger Things” broke out in the summer of 2016 and beat three-time SAG Awards champ “Downton Abbey” for the drama ensemble prize despite not having many well-known A-list actors in its cast.

“Squid Game” has also hit the zeitgeist in a manner similar to recent film ensemble winner “Parasite,” and not just because both are Korean. What unites them is that they both became underdog success stories, word-of-mouth hits that were discovered organically by fans and had a powerful rooting factor. They also told stories that resonated for modern audiences about the struggles of the working class, a theme that’s even more relevant now. In a pandemic era that has forced many to choose between their lives and their livelihoods, it’s like the whole world is playing “Squid Game,” and at the very least the cast of this series could come away as the winners.

Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?

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