Things haven’t been going great for Netflix’s IRL version of the fictional South Korean show Squid Game. Called Squid Game: The Challenge, contestants previously claimed that the British reality competition series was rigged, with former participants seeking legal action against the show’s producers for unsafe working conditions. This was after everyone already pointed out that a game show based on the hit dystopian TV series was more than a little tone-deaf. But now, the game show is under fire for folks allegedly resorting to using condoms as chapstick. Yeah, you read that right.
Apparently, the show banned tons of personal belongings, including lip balm. There was a small bag of toiletries contestants received after the first episode, but with folks stuck on location for 16 days, everyone was offered just a handful of amenities to get by. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, competitor Trey Plutnicki confirmed that some contestants resorted to smearing lubrication from condoms on their lips to alleviate dryness, which participants continued to struggle with even after applying the lubricant.
“I’m going to confirm this: Yeah, that’s 100 percent real,” Plutnicki said. “Do you think I did that? Do I seem like a person that did that? No, hell no. That’s so stupid. […] When people tried it and they kept trying it and it didn’t work, and I was like, ‘Obviously!’ So yeah, that’s 100 percent true.”
The aforementioned toiletry bag included stuff like hand sanitizer and toothbrushes—pretty important hygienic materials. There were also communal items like towels participants could use, but chapstick wasn’t among them. After a few days of zero lip balm, folks got desperate and unwrapped new condoms to hydrate their lips. Plutnicki didn’t do this. Instead, he tried other toiletries as chapstick, but nothing he used worked well.
“There was lotion, there was conditioner, and those were the first two tries,” Plutnicki said. “And after I tried those and they weren’t working, I was like, ‘Well, that’s all of our options, because obviously we’re not going to use the condoms.’ And within a day, maybe a day and a half, all the condoms were gone. It was absurd. And it still didn’t work!”
Eventually the show’s producers gave contestants individual tins of lip balm emblazoned with their numbers on “day three or four,” according to former competitor Dylan Scanlon, one of the few items folks could’ve taken home once they were eliminated from the competition. Plutnicki didn’t keep his lip balm tin, giving it to someone else during episode seven, meaning he might not have any souvenirs from Squid Game: The Challenge now. Still, nothing compares to the memory of watching maybe the grossest application of chapstick we’ve ever heard of. I mean, are you using condom lubrication to bring some moisture back to your dry-ass lips? I’m not.
Kotaku reached out to Netflix for comment.
Squid Game: The Challenge is gearing up for its season finale on December 6. However, while the show may come to an end, it seems its many controversies might not. Recently, another contestant claimed folks were “collapsing left and right,” while other participants alleged that people suffered copious injuries ranging from hypothermia to nerve damage.