I may be in the minority here but I think Netflix’s Stranger Things is kind of overrated. Sure, I enjoyed season one, but I certainly didn’t think it was the THE BEST SHOW EVER MADE like the internet would have you believe. Maybe it’s because I didn’t experience the 80s (I was born in 1988), but this show hardly feels like the staggering masterpiece everyone makes it out to be. The show’s debut season was undeniably charming, but season two leaves a lot to be desired.
The primary problem? This feels like a retread of year one. There’s no narrative throughline (like Will’s disappearance last year) to really drive the story forward. Instead, we get a bunch of disparate subplots that often struggle to form a cohesive whole. Moreover, the Mind Flayer doesn’t generate a sense of urgency like season one’s Demogorgon, and never feels like a tangible threat. It’s also worth nothing that Eleven, the show’s standout character last year, is separated from the cast for the entire season, and that robs us of the gang’s lovable dynamic. In fact, it felt like a filler year for the character (unless you count that controversial seventh episode), and that’s a definite disappointment in my book.
Thankfully, the performances are still engaging as ever. Every one of the show’s child actors remains perfectly cast, capably bringing to life a whole lot of zest and warmth. Quite amazingly, the kids keep you invested in the show when the plot goes off the rails. Sadly one concern remains: why is Winona Ryder still relegated to playing the same darn beat over and over again? We get it, she’s worried – let’s try something new writers!
Strange Bits (spoilers beware)
– As contrived as it was, Dustin taking care of the Demodog was ridiculously adorable. And I loved that their bond (and that darn nougat) gave the gang safe passage at the end.
– Noah Schnapp really knows how to play possessed huh?
– I liked Bob. I genuinely felt bad when he died.
– The show’s musical score (especially those trademark synths) is still on point.
– Max stabbing her abusive brother Billy with the syringe at the end of the season was wonderfully satisfying.
– I found the season finale extremely anticlimactic, especially after the buildup of all those Demodogs. Couldn’t we get one badass scene of Eleven going crazy with her powers and flinging those creatures around in every direction? Instead we got her raising her arm for ten minutes at an ominous red light.
– I kind of love Max and Lucas. Very sweet duo. And of course Eleven and Mike finally reuniting!
– Nancy dancing with a rejected Dustin warmed my heart like nothing else. So much heart in this sequence.
– So many awesome classics tunes in that school dance from Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time to The Police’s Every Breath You Take.
– The finale ends with the Mind Flayer towering over the school in the Upside Down. So basically, we were treading water.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Stranger Things‘ sophomore season, but this year doesn’t really provide anything new after season one. It’s entertaining but ultimately forgettable television.