Matt and Ross Duffer, the twin brothers behind Netflix’s breakout fantasy series Stranger Things, recently sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss how growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s inspired key elements of the show. The self-professed “movie nerds” talked about how VHS tapes of E.T. and Stand by Me inspired the look and feel of their show, which focuses on the mysterious disappearance of a young boy in a small Indiana town in 1983.
The brothers also revealed that Stranger Things was rejected 15 to 20 times by various networks before finally getting the green light from Netflix. Matt explained how one executive told them, “You either gotta make it into a kids show or make it about this Hopper [detective] character investigating paranormal activity around town.” Instead they stuck to their guns, knowing that they’d “lose everything interesting about the show” if they took the kids out of the equation. “There was a week where we were like, ‘This isn’t going to work because people don’t get it,'” Matt recalled.
Fortunately, some friends in the industry connected them with Netflix and the rest is history. Add this account to the raging case of “sequelitis” going on this summer, and you’re left with a compelling argument that most studio executives are very bad at their jobs.