As production began on the third season of Stranger Things earlier this year, series co-creators Ross and Matt Duffer were faced with allegations of verbal abuse and creating hostile working conditions, according to someone who used to work on the show.
Then came word that the producers worked a kissing scene into the scripts for one of the young actors, and they then joked about "forcing" her to do it because she had never kissed someone before. It didn't go over very well.
Netflix VP of Original Programming Cindy Holland address the controversy in a question from /Film at the summer press tour for the Television Critics Association. Asked if the news created conversation at Netflix, Holland responded:
"Yes absolutely. Our first priority is to make sure every set is safe and happy for everybody involved," Holland said. "Certainly events of the past year have even created even more heightened awareness of things that happen on set."
The incident in question involved newcomer Sadie Sink, who plays incoming Hawkins resident Max. In the second season finale, her character kisses Lucas, played by Caleb McLaughlin. On the Netflix aftershow, she made a remark that she was nervous because it wasn't in the script, and Ross Duffer said later that they only joked about it and made her do it after she got so freaked out while filming.
Sink later told TheWrap that she never felt pressured into doing it.
Crew member Peyton Brown wrote on social media that she left the production because the Duffers created a hostile working condition, saying she witnessed numerous occasions of harassment. The show creators responded with a statement denying the severity of her allegations:
"We are deeply upset to learn that someone felt uncomfortable on our set. Due to the high-stress nature of production, tempers occasionally get frayed, and for that, we apologize. However, we think it is 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."
Netflix also investigated the claims and issued a statement saying they will not be taking any action in response:
"We looked into the concern that was raised when we heard of the allegation on Thursday, and found no wrongdoing. Maintaining a safe, respectful atmosphere on set is important to us, and we know it is to the Duffer Brothers as well."