New ‘cruel’ Netflix series, produced by 16-yr-old, to humiliate adults who think they’re starting a new job

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Screen capture … Gaten Matarazzo, 16-year old star of “Stranger Things” and executive producer for the upcoming Netflix series, “Prank Encounters” … Credit: Wired

Deeply liberal Netflix has just signed on for eight episodes of a new hidden-camera prank series setting up people who think they are reporting for new jobs. So many questions surround the premise, leaving many folks wondering how this could be entertaining and funny.

On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to learn that “Prank Encounters” is the brainchild of a 16-year-old, Gaten Matarazzo, who stars on “Stranger Things.” After all, at 16, not many are capable of thinking through the ramifications of any given action beyond whether it might be good for an immediate laugh or two. And that, dear friends, is why adolescents are the most bullying age group on the planet.

So the idea was pitched by the kid, but how do the corporate programming types at streaming giant Netflix arrive at the conclusion that people who need a job are fair game for pranking? Grasping at straws here, trying to understand … is it because gainful employment is passé? That people who actually need a job are pitifully funny?

The show is described as “terrifying and hilarious” in promotional releases. Each episode will feature two strangers who think they are 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,” according to Deadline.

It’s unclear how exactly the people will be chosen and how important landing those new jobs will be for them. Will they be giving up other jobs for the new opportunity? Do they expect to be gaining much-needed benefits like a health plan for their families? Will they actually be keeping a new job in the end after being put through the wringer on national TV?

We could go on, but as far as nasty prank shows go, this one seems to be potentially devastating for those at the pointy end of the stick who just may, in fact, be vulnerable due to their personal economic situation.

Of course, what really matters is that it’s all about the Benjamins for the producers, right?

“Props to Matarazzo. This is a far scarier premise than any monster that’s ever crawled out of the Upside Down,” wrote William Hughes of The A.V. Club, a site whose tagline reads: Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed. “Demogorgon might take your buddies, but at least he doesn’t screw with you while you’re trying to make rent.”

Hughes points out that most people who are punk’d in popular prank shows are actually those who are friends or are somehow known by those involved in the tricksterism. Presumably, that permits a certain amount of personality vetting that should preclude extreme reactions by those victimized in a put-on at their expense.

The new series is scheduled to launch later this year.


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