If you haven’t experienced the spooky, yet lovable television magic that is Stranger Things, you’re missing out on a sizeable pop-culture phenomenon. Developed by a previously little-known duo of thirty-year-old twin brothers- Matt and Ross Duffer- and passed over by at least 15 networks before Netflix finally scooped it up, Stranger Things earned an obsessive fan base almost immediately on its debut last July.
For good reason, too! Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the early 1980s, the show unwinds an addictive and twisting tale of missing children, a dark and hidden alternative dimension called the Upside Down, a nightmarish man-eating monster, a powerful telekinetic girl, and a terrifying government experiment gone awry.
The main ideals in the second season were dedicated to the lovable group of children trying to cope with what can only be described as PTSD. Will’s travels in the Upside Down in the first season meant he was on a search for peace. However, this time around he was staying put in Hawkins while he dealt with horrific waking visions and effects of a tornado disappearing up his nose. Mike, formerly the optimistic leader, was attempting to cope with grief after the death of his best friend. Dustin put the whole town at risk by trusting an unidentifiable amphibian (or reptile? Who knows). And Maxine, the new skateboarding member of the party, had her own issues at home.
In my opinion, Billy the mullet was less of a character and more of a source of anger.
Eleven was on her own search for a family this season, so she was MIA. Lucas Sinclair was dealing with irrelevant issues. The spectra of Barb and her death also hung like a dark cloud, or rather, another dark cloud. That’s before we’ve even got to the scene where Will was (SPOILERS AHEAD) writhing around on the floor and fighting over control of his own mind with the Shadow Monster. These additions made the series feel much darker, and took it away from the Goonies end of the 80s spectrum. They made it feel closer to a Stephen King adaptation such as “It”. Personally, I thought the dark nuances were wonderful, but those looking for a repeat of season one might have been surprised or a little disappointed.
Also, can we talk about the superhero Hawkins didn’t know it needed, and definitely didn’t deserve; Bob Newby. What a hero. His geeky, naive, and slightly creepy vibe made him a potential bad guy, but how could we ever have doubted him? He helped get the AV Club off the ground, pieced together Will’s nonsense Crayola map, and gave tech support to Joyce so she could connect her camcorder to the TV. Patient, wise and considerate- the man needs his own statue. Bob’s sacrifice was pretty shocking, but it just adds to how wholesome of a man he was. Bob Newby. Superhero.
All in all, I would give this series a 9.5/10, easily (minus .5 points for Billy the mullet, bleh). If you are looking for a sequel or series you can truly invest yourself in, then look no further. Even after the major success of the original, the second season still gave me the chills and thrills the first season had.