The Duffer Brothers have incited some controversy after it was revealed in a “Beyond Stranger Things” episode that an on-screen kiss between Sadie Sink’s character Max and Caleb McLaughlin’s character Lucas was only added to the script after Sink said she was “stressed out” by the idea.
In the video from “Beyond Stranger Things,” which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the hit Netflix series, showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer are joined by Sink, McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin. The group is asked to discuss the romantic scene in the Season 2 finale, when the kids attend the Hawkins Middle School Snow Ball dance.
Sink admits that she was nervous about the scene, which the then-15-year-old had to perform in front of a room full of cast and crew. Ross Duffer says he was initially joking about the kiss, and that Sink’s reaction was “so strong” and she was “so freaked” that he decided to film the part. He then goes on to say that it was Sink’s “fault” that the kiss ended up happening.
Sadie then asked, “That’s why it’s my fault?”
“That’s why I’m saying it’s your fault,” Ross responds.
Variety spoke with the showrunners ahead of the series premiere, in which the topic of the underage actors of the show having to kiss also came up.
“Whenever we make them kiss it’s like, oh my god, it’s like a two month buildup to that,” Ross said at the time.
“Give me a break!” Matt added. “They had to kiss three times. You’d think it’s the end of the world but I guess it’s a big deal. Caleb, I think it was his first kiss. It was definitely Sadie’s first kiss. I know that. But then even Millie and Finn had never kissed before. It was still huge. Actually, though, neither of those kisses were written in the script so we kind of dropped that on them the day of and caused a major panic. But they did it.”
He continued that it was fun to push the kids’ buttons.
“It was fun. I love it. You have to torture them a little bit. You know you’ve got to entertain yourself some way. And we have all these children who are just fun. I know exactly how to push their buttons at this point.”
Fans of the show, however, discussed the information on Twitter, with many expressing discomfort over the idea that the directors didn’t work to make Sink more comfortable.
“A director’s job is to get the best performances from their actors AND make sure they feel safe and comfortable,” wrote one Twitter user, Anna Marquardt. “Even if it started as a ‘joke,’ it’s still gross and inappropriate.”
Actress Dani Kind tweeted, “This happens on sets all the time. Being presented with a ‘script change’. Call it what u will, it’s not ok. Enough.”
Variety has reached out to the Duffer brothers and Sink for comment.