Stranger Things Star Gaten Matazarro Criticised Over New Netflix Prank Show

by : Julia Banim on : 16 Jun 2019 13:00
New prank show criticised for being cruel.Netflix/PA Images

Starting a new job can cause anxiety to go through the roof, with the first day at the office being a potentially stressful ordeal.

We often joke about making mistakes because of first day nerves, but this fear also reveals something far bigger and more universal.


Independence is a very human ideal to chase, within our society it often equates to being comfortable and able to pay bills on time. To achieve this, in general, a job is required. The thought of being fired and having to start the whole job seeking process all over again is a painful one.

Stranger Things kidsNetflix

The premise of new Netflix show, Prank Encounters, is therefore open for criticism, appearing to pick on those who are just trying to make an honest living.

Fronted by Gaten Matarazzo – who plays the likeable Dustin in Stranger ThingsPrank Encounters sounds bafflingly heartless.


Over eight episodes, this ‘epic hidden-camera prank show’ will follow unsuspecting people who believe they are on the first day of a new temp job. In reality, they are about to be pranked by one of the kids from Stranger Things.

According to the synopsis detailed in a Netflix press release:

Netflix has ordered Prank Encounters, an epic hidden-camera prank show hosted by Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things).

Each episode of this terrifying and hilarious prank show 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.

Dustin in Stranger ThingsNetflix

Like many people, I myself had temp jobs in my early twenties, and can completely relate to that stomach churning sensation of hope and fear when you first walk through the door in your smartest shoes.

I can relate to an unspoken wish you will somehow be given a full-time position, or that the experience will prove invaluable for future dream jobs.

Knowledge of these emotions makes the idea of laughing at the discomfort of people going through them uncomfortable.

netflix stranger things castGetty

Many people have taken to social media to criticise this show, with some expressing shock about how this was ever given the go ahead.

One person commented:

Yeah because when I get a new job to support myself. What I really want is some rich kid already making 100x more then me pranking my ass on TV for laughs.

Another said:


Hey @netflix, heard you’re developing a prank show where a millionaire child actor screws with unemployed adults who think they are starting new jobs. This is a belated April Fools joke, right? Do better.

A Netflix spokesperson told UNILAD:

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

Some have pointed out how contestants may be compensated for their time on the show. Compensation misses the point, though. Pranking jobseekers when they may be feeling tense and vulnerable is just mean-spirited, with consequences producers may not have perceived.

Given the shift of public attitude toward shows such as Jeremy Kyle in the UK, and the desire for mental health awareness to become prominent in the production of reality TV, the concept of Prank Encounters is at the very least flawed in its naivety.

Prank Encounters will launch later on this year.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Celebrity, Netflix, Stranger Things


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