Stranger Things would not have been the hit it is today had the Duffer Brothers listened to outside pressure. The series is arguably Netflix's crown jewel and it has been since the start. The show premiered in 2016 and quickly became one of the streaming platform's most viewed pieces of original content. Season 3 has been its biggest to date and a fourth season was just officially announced. However, the Duffer Brothers originally struggled to find a home for the nostalgic series since they didn't really have a big resumé in the entertainment industry.
The Duffer Brothers were having trouble pitching Stranger Things and ended up pitching it to networks, which would have more than likely doomed the show for that reason alone. However, since the directing/writing duo were relatively unknown, they were given advice about how the show should "really go." According to a 2016 interview with the Duffers, the networks weren't into the idea of the kids being the main focus of Stranger Things. Apparently, they didn't like that it had children as the focus, but was not a children's show.
The Duffer Brothers recall that they were advised to either make it a children's show or ditch that concept altogether and make Chief Hopper the main star of Stranger Things. It would have been about Hopper "investigating paranormal activity around town," which sounds like a million other ideas on TV today. Looking back, the Duffer Brothers made a wise decision by not bowing down to network pressures to change their vision. Though the show is not exactly for children, it has grown into a pop culture empire, thanks to its young cast, which has started to take over Hollywood.
Luckily, the Duffer Brothers ended up meeting with Shawn Levy, who loved the idea for Stranger Things. Levy purchased the script and then partnered with Netflix to get it made, which was the perfect choice for the Duffers. They made some slight tweaks to the script once the show had been cast, which was also a crucial decision. It's hard to imagine anyone else except who was cast playing those parts and that's because the Duffer Brothers went back to add parts of real-life personalities of the Stranger Things actors into the fictional roles. It's that eye for detail that probably would not have happened had the show ended up on network TV.
Nobody has a magic ball, but it's clear the Duffer Brothers knew they had something special when they were originally pitching Stranger Things. There's a lot of writers and directors who would have instantly made the changes in order to work with a network and that happens on a daily basis. Thankfully, love or hate it, streaming platforms have been pushing the envelope in terms of storytelling on the little and big screen. The original interview with the Duffer Brothers was conducted by Rolling Stone.