The Duffer Brothers have responded to accusations of sexism and verbal abuse on the set of Stranger Things. In Hollywood, fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal and Me Too movement continues to be felt. On Netflix alone, Danny Masterson has been fired from The Ranch due to multiple rape allegations and Kevin Spacey from House of Cards after numerous members of the crew came forward with stories of sexual abuse. Now another Netflix series, Stranger Things, is having behind-the-scenes issues. Only this time, it's slightly different.
The show's creators - Matt and Ross Duffer, aka The Duffer Brothers - have dealt with some controversy before. On an episode of the behind-the-scenes series Beyond Stranger Things, Ross Duffer claimed that the kiss between the characters of Max and Lucas was unscripted and only occured because actress Sadie Sink was so nervous when teased about it. When Sink confirmed in the same episode that she was freaked out by the kiss, there was tremendous backlash against The Duffers for making a child actor perform a kissing scene when she did not want to. Sink eventually dialed back on her comment, claiming that she wasn't forced or made uncomfortable, though would not answer when asked if she had been coached.
But now a new accusation has come out, this time on Instagram from crew member Peyton Brown on National Women's Day. Brown worked as a grip on the show, but claims that she has witnessed verbal abuse against women by "two men in high positions of power" on the set and, therefore, has chosen to quit the show in solidarity with her fellow women. She also used the phrase "Time's Up" which has become both an organization to fight abuse in the workplace and also a rallying cry from those who refuse to stay silent any longer. Brown eventually deleted the post, then reposted it without comments, though at least one earlier comment seemed to confirm her accusations.
I guess there’s no better day than #nationalwomensday to say #timesup and announce that I will not be a part of the filming of Season 3 of Stranger Things. Why, you ask? Because I stand with my sisters. I personally witnessed two men in high positions of power on that set seek out and verbally abuse multiple women. I promised myself that if I were ever in a situation to say something that I would. I have 11.5 thousand followers who can hear me say this, TIME IS UP. Women in the film industry are POWERFUL. We will rise and we will scream from mountain tops in support of each other and I will not contribute my time, efforts, and talent to such abusive people. There is too much going on in this world to be regressive. There are too many amazing and highly respected men in respective positions of power that I have had the utmost pleasure of working beside. Those are the people I want to surround myself with. Those are the projects I want to be a part of. This industry is no longer led by a “few good men,” but instead by an OCEAN of ASTOUNDING WOMEN. Enough is enough. For my sisters- Time is up. #timesup #theabusestopsnow #ontobiggerandbetter #standupforwhatsright #womenempowerment #ladygrip #sisterhood #iatsesisters #wewillbeheard #thispicsaysitall
The Duffers have chosen to respond to Brown's accusation with a statement, which was reported by Variety. They claim to be upset that Brown was uncomfortable, but denied any wrongdoing:
"We think it's important not to mischaracterize our set, where we believe strongly in treating everyone fairly regardless of gender, orientation, race, religion, or anything else. We remain totally committed to providing a safe and collaborative working environment for everyone on our productions ."
At this time, Netflix has investigated the allegations and "found no wrongdoings" on the set. Still, this is the second time in just a few months that the Duffers have been accused of mistreating women on the set. While these kinds of accusations are often difficult, if not impossible to prove, accusers are finding themselves in the position of largely being believed for the first time. If these accusations are true, then it's only a matter of time before more women come forward. In that case, it could mean that Stranger Things might be the first and last hit for The Duffer Brothers.
Stranger Things season 3 will air on Netflix in 2019.