Netflix Receives Massive Backlash Over New Prank Show

Published on June 19, 2019

In an age where the internet is hyper-sensitive to people’s real-world woes, it should come as no surprise that a new TV show that plays pranks on the unemployed isn’t sitting well with the URL crowd. Netflix recently announced a new prank show that stars Gaten Matarazzo—otherwise known as the adorable toothless kid from Stranger Things, another Netflix original. Prank Encounters is the new Netflix show that puts Matarazzo at the helm of both hosting and producing the series, which will premiere sometime in 2019. The show will play pranks on people who think they’re starting a first day of work, which has sparked controversy among social media users.

Prank Encounters

Netflix announced the new prank show, Prank Encounters. The show was announced ahead of the release of the third season of Stranger Things. The hidden camera prank show would see Matarazzo pranking people who are looking for work. Each episode would feature two everyday people going to what they think is their first day at a new part-time job. Eventually, the people would be told they were being pranked after being asked to complete “terrifying and hilarious” tasks. Sounds—dangerous?

“It’s business as usual until their paths collide and these part-time jobs turn into full-time nightmares,” said Netflix on the new series. Without saying too much, Netflix wanted to create a buzz surrounding the new show, which would be hosted by one of the most-loved actors on Stranger Things. Matarazzo, who is among the Stranger Things actors to have secured a higher rate for the show now that it’s going into its fourth season, is now one of the most well-paid young actors in Hollywood. The younger actors on the show are reported to make as much as $250,000 per episode, with even higher rates going to more experienced actors like Winona Ryder, according to Deadline.


However, critics and people on social media were quick to point out that unemployed folks are already facing enough trouble. Adding the disappointment of finding out that their new job was actually just some kids prank show would be in poor taste. “I’m hoping that ‘s pranks are going to be like “oh here’s a menial job that pays $22,000” and then the prank is when they get a paycheck for $50,000+,” wrote one twitter user named @oddlychristina. Users were quick to point out that it would be more appropriate to have Matarazzo prank kids his own age with harmless pranks. Many wanted to see that instead of making unemployed people think they’re starting a new job only to find out they’re the subject of a joke.

“I used the last bit of money to buy gas and come to this interview, Gaten Matarazzo: Surprise There is no job, we were just messing with you, wait why are you crying,” wrote another user named @patricksp71. A Care2 petition has also gone up in the wake of the controversy. The petition, which has been signed by over 3,000 people, is calling upon Netflix to cancel the show altogether. “Gaten Matarazzo should be applauded for his creativity and encouraged to experiment and grow as an artist and businessman. But someone at Netflix should have rung the alarm and put an end to this show’s concept. Highlighting the plight of the vulnerable for the enjoyment of those more fortunate isn’t funny. It’s cruel and it shouldn’t be put on the air,” writes the petition.

Netflix Defends The Show

Netflix has defended the show and plans to continue to air it. The network says”All participants came in with the expectation this was a one-day, hourly gig and everyone got paid for their time.” It also claimed that everyone that took part in the pranks had a great time while filming. Netflix assured that no one was upset to find out that they were being pranked. Prank Encounters does not have an official release date. But Netflix has claimed that it would be coming out in 2019.


Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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