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Netflix Is Defending Its New Prank Show With The "Stranger Things" Actor That's Drawing Backlash

The new show Prank Encounters has been criticized for playing tricks on people who are looking for work, but Netflix is standing by it.

Posted on June 18, 2019, at 4:54 p.m. ET

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Netflix is defending its controversial new prank show starring Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo following backlash the project received for tricking people who are looking for work.

The streaming giant announced on Friday that eight episodes of Prank Encounters would launch sometime this year, with 16-year-old Matarazzo serving as both host and executive producer.

Netflix representatives said the "terrifying and hilarious" pranks would be played on "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," they added.

Many people were quick to take umbrage with Netflix and Matarazzo, one of Hollywood's wealthiest young stars, for playing pranks on vulnerable people looking for work.

@TheAVClub Hey @netflix great job. I struggled to find work for a year and it drove me to the brink.

@TheAVClub Gaten, you seem like a cool kid, but please don't. As someone who is currently unemployed, this just comes across as unnecessarily cruel.

@GatenM123 Hey Gaten, this isn’t the group of people to be pulling “pranks” on. Please reconsider this one. Punch up, not down.

But in a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Netflix spokesperson sought to clarify the original description of the show's premise, which stated the people were starting their "first day at a new job."

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

The spokesperson declined to answer additional questions about how the jobs were marketed to those seeking work. Netflix also declined to make any of the pranked people available for an interview.

Representatives for Matarazzo have not responded to requests for comment.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.