Stranger Things to Mundane Things: A Brief Review of Stranger Things with Comments on the Show's Current Trajectory
I finally finished watching the Netflix original series Stranger Things (Seasons 1-2).
|Stranger Things Logo|
4/5 - Great Entertainment
Stating the Obvious
First, to identify some of the elements I believe contributed to the show's initial success: hometown America setting, adventure story tropes, classic horror monster (think black-and-white tv), teamwork and problem-solving, strong friendships.
It is my opinion that the show is moving away from these elements, and will continue to do so to a greater degree in Season Three.
I don't believe the writers of this show are talented enough to sustain the purity of the relationship between Mike and Eleven now that they are "together." I find it more likely that they will shift the drama of Nancy's relationships to Mike, in order to create a solvable conflict between the friends in Season Three.
This will also give the pretext that Nancy has resolved her internal struggle and has found happiness in the arms of the beta male (a situation I find intolerable). Nancy's drama with Steve and Jonathan is a farce. The girl who is supposedly smart clearly does not understand her own emotions and does not seek to do so. Steve is empirically more attractive than Jonathan, who never outgrows his creepy loner persona.
I don't trust the writers of this show regarding relationships in general. No one's parents are in love; Bob is introduced in Season Two and built into a strong positive male presence for the sole purpose of stabbing the audience in the heart later. Twelve-year-olds are kissing. Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper are clearly being set up for a romantic entanglement I dread for the same reason I worry for Mike and Eleven.
No one is watching this show for the romance drama. Why waste screen time?
Setting Set-backsThe Upside-Down has been intense and creepy. A very effective setting for Season One. We saw less of it in Season Two, with the emergence of a monster that fills the sky and enacts a mental take-over of any creatures that cross its path. I find it unlikely that Season Three will be able to return there without also revisiting that monster.
Where, then, does the show turn? Will they be able to use other dimensions as effectively as the Upside-Down? Or will we continue to return to a now familiar setting? Either way poses significant risks to the story.
Potential Plot Problems
The enemy in the first season was a classic monster: a localized threat whose greatest strength was the unbelief of the authority figures and who could only be defeated by problem-solving and teamwork.
The enemy of the second season was a racist super-monster intent on destroying all living things in our reality. This epic scale is quickly surpassing the small town setting and feels more like a Marvel movie than a science-fiction tv show staring children.
I think as the writers reach to top the previous season, they are losing sight of what makes the show impactful. If the writers introduce an even bigger monster for Season Three, I think the show will continue to move away from the home-town adventure that made Season One so appealing.