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We Have So Many Questions About This Willy Wonka Reality Show Coming to Netflix

Perhaps TimothéeChalamet will make a guest appearance?
  • The last Willy Wonka before whoever shows up in this Netflix reality show (Image: Willy Wonka)
    The last Willy Wonka before whoever shows up in this Netflix reality show (Image: Willy Wonka)

    Everyone’s favorite eccentric chocolatier is making an exciting — and very unexpected — career pivot: reality TV. A Willy Wonka reality competition show is headed to Netflix. Who says great TV ended with Succession

    Per Deadline, the streamer is preparing a reality competition series based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — which has already been adapted into three movies — but no other details are known yet. Warner Bros. Discovery is also expected to be involved somehow, given that it holds the rights to the films.

    The news comes after Netflix acquired Roald Dahl Story Company in 2021, obtaining the rights to the late author’s collection of works, which includes Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG. At the time, a Netflix press release laid out plans to build “a unique universe across animated and live action films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theatre, consumer products and more.” That “and more” apparently means reality TV.

    We have just… so many questions about this whole thing. Is this going to be just another candy-making competition show similar to Netflix’s Sugar Rush? Something more like Amaury Guichon’s School of Chocolate (another Netflix production) where the contestants sculpt things out of sweets? Are the participants going to have to dress up like Oompa Loompas for the competition? Will Timothée Chalamet or Hugh Grant make a cameo? 

    If you feel like this concept was just randomly pulled out of Willy Wonka’s hat, you’re not far off-base. Per Deadline’s reporting, the project is what’s known as a “bake-off” in the entertainment industry — essentially, it’s when studios get the rights to something (like Roald Dahl IP) and then rely on producers to pitch actual ideas. 

    “In the good old days, once in a while there were bake-offs, but typically, networks would pick a production company they knew and trusted and they would just partner up and make it work,” an unscripted producer told Deadline. “But now because the market’s so bad, they have the opportunity to make people audition.”

    So basically, nobody has any idea as to what this Willy Wonka competition show should actually entail. It certainly does say a lot about the state of television, which is grappling with ongoing industry-wide contractions following the end of post-peak TV, the dual Hollywood strikes, and general belt-tightening across networks and streamers.

    Of course, this is hardly the first time Netflix has produced a bonkers competition show. Squid Game: The Challenge capitalized off the massive success of the scripted show and transformed it into a reality show where 456 contestants compete in a giant warehouse for money. Considering that the original series is a dystopian thriller about wealth, the concept felt… well, icky. Yet the show strangely worked much better than it should have. The streamer has also found success with other zany, food-centered reality competition shows in the past, such as the equally ridiculous Is It Cake? and Baking Impossible.

    Whether this Willy Wonka reality competition show ends up being a hate-watching success, total flop, or surprisingly quality entertainment remains to be seen. But while Netflix is still open to ideas, maybe there ought to be a documentary about the Willy Wonka Glasgow ordeal next.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: Netflix, Squid Game: The Challenge, Timothee Chalamet, Reality TV, Willy Wonka