Netflix wasn’t quite the cultural juggernaut that it is now back in the summer of 2016 when an unassuming fantasy show named Stranger Things dropped its first season on July 15th. Even then, the show was hardly a phenomenon out of the gate; viewership data indicated that it was only the third most-watched original series on the platform at the time, behind Orange is the New Black and Fuller House.
Fast-forward half a decade and Stranger Things is unquestionably one of the most popular episodic offerings on the planet, and perhaps even the jewel in Netflix’s TV crown. It’s come a long way since then, with fans growing restless waiting for Season 4, which isn’t expected to arrive until next summer.
So under the radar was the Season 1 marketing campaign, that David Harbour revealed during his recent appearance at New York Comic-Con via People that he was warned by The Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley that the streaming service was trying to bury the show, leading the actor to believe it was no good.
“So about two weeks before the show I was like, ‘There’s still no ads, man, like buses and phone, there’s no ads’, and Paul was like, ‘Sorry man, they’re trying to bury it’. It was clearly a terrible show. I was like, ‘Oh no, man. I blew it. I had like one of the leads on a Netflix show, and I blew it, we all blew it’.”
Obviously, Wesley was dead wrong, and Harbour’s performance as Hopper turned out to be a breakthrough role for a talent that had never really been afforded many substantial roles in major projects up until then. You can imagine his anxiety at the time, though, when nobody knew if Stranger Things was going to be a success.