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Netflix Responds to Backlash Over Prank Show Starring 'Stranger Things' Actor Gaten Matarazzo

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been processed using digital filters)  Gaten Matarazzo attends the 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards
 at Barker Hangar on June 15, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for MTV)
2019 MTV Movie And TV Awards - Red Carpet | Matt Winkelmeyer

Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo hasn’t been shy about expanding his star power. While he first splashed onto the scene with the breakout role of Dustin on the Netflix series, he’s expanded himself to a number of other ventures, including commercials, non-profit work, music, and, most recently, a show called Prank Encounters. This latter show, however, has garnered extensive controversy for its subject matter and depiction of labor--and this week, Netflix responded to the backlash surrounding the show.

Prank Encounters, which Matarazzo will host and executive produce, was described in a press release by Netflix as a “terrifying and hilarious prank show [that] takes two complete strangers who each think they’re starting their first day at a new job...It’s business as usual until their paths collide and these part-time jobs turn into full-time nightmares” (via CNBC).

Backlash began soon after, with a number of social media users expressing concern at the idea that the show would prey on individuals struggling in a tough job market. Netflix, however, promptly released a statement clarifying the nature of the show in an effort to assuage these concerns.

“The pranks in Prank Encounters are spooky, supernatural, and over the top, and everyone had a great time,” the statement said, according to ScreenRant. “All participants came in with the expectation this was a one-day, hourly gig and everyone got paid for their time.”

The show, which was developed Ben Silverman (Jane the Virgin) and Howard T. Owens (Charmed, Lore), is expected to premiere on Netflix later this year, though no definite date has been given yet.

As for us, we’re glad to hear that the show isn’t as mean-spirited as it initially sounded--we love Matarazzo, and we’d hate to think that he’d be involved in something as tacky as the initial premise of the show.