You know him as one of the kids dealing with the Upside Down on Netflix's Stranger Things, but if you see him coming now--you should be the one to run. Gaten Matarazzo is producing and starring in a new prank show, Prank Encounters, and Netflix just ordered eight episodes. Deadline describes it as follows:
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.
Do you know what I have to say to this? No, no, no, and no.
Sure, we love to laugh at people's misfortune--America's Funniest Home Videos--made a fortune off people falling off step ladders and tripping over the dog. But, there's a key difference here: people in that show submitted their own videos--they were laughing at themselves. This show sets people up for public entertainment with unasked for humiliation.
And it does it in a very vulnerable time of life--job hunting.
It doesn't matter that the economy is running at a smooth clip and that unemployment is low; if you are looking for a new job, you're stressed out. Job interviews, which should be all about getting to know each other--like a date--are far too often held in beauty pageant fashion with candidates desperate to please a panel of judges who make them jump through hoops. And to go through that and get a "job" only to have it turn into a "full-time nightmare" is cruel.
It's a hidden camera show as well, so it's not like you sign up to have your first day on the job documented--which would at least give you an idea that things might not all be on the up and up.
There are plenty more things that can be funny without hurting people and making fun of job seekers.
I've asked Netflix the following questions and I hope they get back to me. I will update if they do.
- What kind of releases are involved for the "victims"?
- What type of compensation they will receive?
- Will they be able to refuse to release the video?
- If a prank show victim turns down another job for this fake one, what will Netflix do to make the person whole?
Bad first days of work can be hilarious, in retrospect, but no one should purposely force that on someone to make a profit.
UPDATE: A Netflix spokesperson responded with this statement: "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."