Slip ‘N Slide Game Show Shoot Stopped By ‘Explosive Diarrhea’

“I don’t want to be the person that outlaws slip ‘n slides,” a doctor told VICE, “But you could theoretically get [sick] that way.”
slip n slide game show
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The logline for NBC’s upcoming game show, Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide, says that the outdoor competition “takes the spirit of the classic backyard slide and transforms it into a real-life water park full of gigantic slippery rides, with the chance to take home a big cash prize.” But instead of insider buzz about the Big Slipper, the show’s 65-foot-tall slide that’s loosely based on the Wham-O branded sheet of plastic that you used once at your stepdad’s house, everyone’s talking about the production’s porta-potties. 


According to The Wrap, as many as 40 crew members had “awful explosive diarrhea” that left them “collapsing” on the Simi Valley set earlier this month. As a result of the frantic bathroom breaks—and the use of the words ‘explosive’ and ‘diarrhea’ in succession—production has been temporarily suspended since the first week of June. 

At least one member of the crew tested positive for giardia, a parasite that can cause bloating, gas, and the kind of intestinal issues that force you to do complex mental calculations involving the distance to the closest toilet and the tensile strength of your undergarments. 

“Giardia definitely can cause diarrhea,” Eric Jorge Nelson, MD, PhD, of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, told VICE. “It’s a waterborne parasite, and Americans in rural settings can have their wells contaminated by it. Backpackers that are in the mountains and drink stream water without filtering it can catch it. They can most definitely catch it [if they drink] downstream from where grazing animals like cattle or deer could contaminate the water source.” 

A spokesperson for NBC Universal confirmed to VICE that the studio worked “in coordination and cooperation” with the Los Angeles and Ventura County Health Departments and a third-party environmental lab to test the water at the show’s filming location for giardia, including the well, a pond, the slide pool, a water truck, and the sinks in the restrooms. Those tests were all negative, but additional testing “revealed giardia in the surrounding area” so whenever the Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide resumes production, it will happen at a new location. 


 The Wrap reported that the show was being filmed at a “remote ranch” in Ventura County; the outlet’s unnamed source said that some crew members were “reluctant” to return to the set because of concerns that fresh, clean water was not being used.

 “Theoretically, if there was animal poop from whatever source, did someone step in that [and become the source of the infection],” Nelson said. “Or did it come from a human that just happened to go slip ‘n sliding that day, and they became the source because they had giardia in their underpants? I can’t speak to either explanation, but in infectious disease, we think about something called infectious dose which, in this case, means how many of the pathogen you would have to swallow to get sick. You’d have to have a pretty high number of giardia to get those symptoms.” 

 The good news is that, despite the horrendous-sounding situation, giardia can be easily treated with antibiotics. “It has pretty established treatment with a medication called Flagyl or metronidazole,” Nelson added. “That certainly clears it. There are rare situations where the giardia can become persistent, and that sucks.” 

The NBC Universal spokesperson said that there was one week of filming left when the show was paused. The first episode of Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide is scheduled to premiere on Sunday, August 8, immediately after the closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics (which could become their own kind of shitshow). “The health and safety of everyone on our set is our number one priority,” the spokesperson said. “We are in the process of determining next steps in order to complete production.” 

If a backyard slip ‘n slide is part of your hot vaxxed summer plans, though, should you be worried about giardia? “I don’t want to be the person that outlaws slip ‘n slides,” Nelson said. “But the challenge with things like slip ‘n slides is that you're using tap water or well water, and if people step in things that have infectious agents or they themselves are shedding an infectious agent, then you could theoretically get it that way.” 

Nelson suggested that a chlorinated pool might be a safer option, both to avoid giardia and the effects of the pandemic that is still very much happening. “I can’t speak to all pools on planet earth, but during COVID, a lot of pools really upped the concentration of chlorine to the max of what was acceptable and safe, so the chlorine would neutralize any COVID that found its way into the water,” he said. 

 “We know a lot about chlorination, pool water, and bio-transmission that’s informed all the way back to the polio epidemic,” Nelson added. “There are strict guidelines so we can keep viruses, bacteria, and presumably giardia neutralized in the water. Because of that, I’ve been an advocate that swimming in a chlorinated pool is quite a good thing to do during the COVID outbreak. The water is set to kill infectious agents, and it’s a reasonably socially distanced activity.” 

So here’s to a diarrhea-free summer, explosive or otherwise.