If you've binged all of Stranger Things season 3, and are craving a connection to Hawkins, Indiana, you'll be pleased to know that you can actually call one of the characters from the hit Netflix show.
After his phone number was revealed onscreen, eagle-eyed fans have discovered that it's possible to call conspiracy-theorist Murray Bauman, and hear his rather unusual answering machine message.
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If you want to try it for yourself, that crucial phone number is 618-625-8313. According to Cnet (opens in new tab), you'll then hear the following message:
"Hi, you have reached the residence of Murray Bauman. Mom, if this is you, please hang up and call me between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m. as previously discussed, OK? If this is Joyce, Joyce, thank you for calling, I have been trying to reach ya. I have an update. It's about, well, its probably best if we speak in person. It's not good or bad, but it's something."
"If this is anyone but my mother or Joyce, well, you think you're real clever, getting my number, don't ya?" the message continues.
"Well, here's some breaking news for you: You're not clever. You're not special. You are just simply one of the many, many nimwits to have called here, and the closest you will ever get to me is this prerecorded message so at the beep, do me a favor and hang up and never call here again. You are a parasite! Thank you and good day."
This isn't the first time that Netflix has used working phone numbers to promote Stranger Things. In 2017, the show's creators "promoted a viral marketing campaign", that included real billboards in LA and New York – including a phone number people could call to hear a message from Dr. Sam Owens, the director of operations at Hawkins Power and Light.
The ability to call characters within shows is part of a growing trend for more immersive streaming, which allows viewers to interact with what they're watching, much like they would interact with a video game.
Netflix is very much at the forefront of this trend, having released interactive Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch in December 2018.
The feature length episode put the viewer in control of key decisions throughout, with various routes the film can travel through. While Bandersnatch was arguably a natural evolution of Black Mirror's paranoid depictions of technology, the use of interactive media isn't relegated to technological dystopias.
Netflix's first interactive adventure was Minecraft: Story Mode, and it's set to release an interactive episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in 2020.
If they don't, the format could just help Netflix hold off its growing competition.