– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Hindsight’s 20/20, as they say. It’s easy to look at something like Harry Potter and know that it’ll be a success. Same goes for Stranger Things. Between its solid story, lovable characters, and dark undercurrent of the Upside Down, it’s become a cultural milestone for the geek community.

But, of course, it’s not as easy to see this while in the midst of being involved in a project. The crew of the original Star Wars film famously thought the movie was strange and that it would ultimately fall flat, never finding an audience. Now, speaking on WTF Podcast, Stranger Things star David Harbour revealed his own misgivings while working on the series’ first season.

“When we were shooting it, about four episodes in, I thought ‘Yeah, no one’s going to watch this.’ I thought, you know, ‘I’m not good, and it’s not good.’ And it didn’t help that, we were all working hard, but we were in a bubble. I just thought it was like, you know, in a long line of failures… I had grown very cynical. But so this was one of those opportunities where my expectations were really low… And so before it came out, I was scared.

And then, I was actually doing a play with a guy who was on a very successful TV show. And before it came out, like three weeks before it came out, there were no ads in New York. No ads on buses, nothing. And then a week before it came out, no ads anywhere. I talked to [the actor] and was like ‘There’s no ads. Is that a bad sign?’ And he was like ‘They’re burying it. They’re trying to bury it.’ And I was like ‘Oh my god. My one f**king shot, and they’re burying my show.’ And then it came out, and it was like a zeitgeist. They claim now that they did it on purpose, where people claim ownership over it because they discover it and then they tell their friends. And it is kind of brilliant, when you think about it, if that is the case.”

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Sure, it’s always cool when we see an unexpected hit, but the cooler takeaway here for me has to do with the idea of Netflix “burying” the show. This really goes to show how different of a world we live in from TV even a few years ago. The actor he spoke with (though it wasn’t specified) likely worked in either cable or network TV, where advertising is very important. But in a world where Netflix can cater ads to specific people within their own ecosystem, and in a world where the longevity of a show is just as important (or more important) than its premiere, typical rules do not apply.

TV has been around for decades, but this further shows that we’re still blazing new territory on a near-daily basis in this industry. What do you think of Harbour’s comments? Did discovering Stranger Things on your own and not from countless billboards on the sides of buildings make it more special for you? Sound off down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.