Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo has a new Netflix comedy project in the works, but not everyone thinks it is funny. The teen star, who plays Dustin on the sci-fi megahit Stranger Things, is being blasted following the announcement of Prank Encounters, his new show on the streaming giant.
According to a Netflix press release, Prank Encounters is an upcoming, eight-episode hidden camera prank show that tricks unsuspecting people who think they are starting the first day on a new job.
Per the press release: “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.”
Prank Encounters is already being compared to Ashton Kutcher’s legendary prank show, Punk’d, which aired on MTV from 2003-2007 and was revived with celebrity guest hosts in 2012. But while Punk’d got big laughs, not everyone is laughing about Gaten Matarazzo’s upcoming show Prank Encounters.
After the Stranger Things star posted the announcement about Prank Encounters to his social media pages, many people called him out for getting involved in a prank show that has such a “cruel” premise.
Commenters on Instagram told Gaten that the idea is “awful” and “terrible” and urged him not to follow through with it. Others told the teen actor to fire his agent. In addition, workers struggling with unemployment questioned why the teen star would get behind such mean-spirited show idea, which “tricks” people into thinking they’re starting a real job.
“They could easily just prank people on their first day of work and have it be their actual first day and not a sham job. Instead, they do this,” tweeted one critic.
You can see more negative reaction to Gaten Matarazzo’s Prank Encounters below.
A rich kid is going to pretend to give employment to people who desperately need it then take said employment away so he can make money from it? This is simply cruel.
Netflix orders show Prank Encounters with Stranger Things' Gaten Matarazzo https://t.co/uAwB8PTYZh
— Cian (@Cianaf) June 15, 2019
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. #netflix #PrankEncounters
— Carrie (@CarriedAlong) June 15, 2019
This #PrankEncounters Netflix show. It's not funny- It's bullying and abuse. Plain and simple. Messing with peoples hopes, dreams, families, livelihoods and sense of self worth isn't a prank. It's abhorrent.
Seems the Demogorgon isn't the only monster in stranger things.
— Jason P. Smith (@Jason_P_Smith) June 16, 2019
Cancel this. Now. I swear I won’t touch anything you do ever if this project goes forward
— B???? (@BroBear2015) June 15, 2019
Gaten Matarazzo achieved massive success at a very young age on Stranger Things. Last year, Deadline reported that Matarazzo and his young Stranger Things co-stars would be paid more than $200,000 per episode for the third season of the hit series, which begins streaming on Netflix on July 4.
Indeed, Stranger Things is red hot right now, and unemployment is probably not on the horizon for Gaten anytime soon. The 16-year-old actor was recently named one of the top stars under 30 by The Hollywood Reporter.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that after Gaten Matarazzo posted the plug for his tone-deaf new Netflix show, fellow child star Mara Wilson (Miracle on 34th Street, Matilda) gently tweeted to him: “Gaten, Can we talk?”
Matazarro has not responded to the backlash his still-unaired prank show is receiving.
Prank Encounters is set to debut on Netflix in late 2019.