Stranger Things is easily one of my favourite TV shows of all time.
Mix a riveting sci-fi concept about other dimensions, terrifying monsters, an all-around great ensemble of characters and a bucket load 80s nostalgia, and you have yourself one of the best quality content Netflix has to offer, Stranger Things.
I watched Season 1 almost immediately after it was first released, and I was instantly hooked. There’s just so much to love about Stranger Things, and you could be damned sure that I was going to watch it as soon as Season 2 landed.
I want to briefly mention just how spectacular the Comic-Con trailer for Stranger Things Season 2 was.
It showed us enough to get us hyped without spoiling anything. Also, Michael Jackson’s Thriller was a very welcomed surprise that elevated the mystery and fun that Season 2 had in store for us.
Now this season picks up about a year after the events of the first season, and we get a good insight into how the different characters are dealing with their grief or their PTSD. But when an inter-dimensional shadow monster latches itself onto Will Byers, the town of Hawkins is once again thrust into a battle between their world and the Upside Down.
One thing this season does phenomenally that other sequels or follow-up seasons fail to do is build on the pre-established universe. Stranger Things Season 2 develops different arcs further, spreads the story into multiple locations and raises the stakes in a way that’s captivating and new.
Too many sequels flop because all they do is a complete rehash of the original. Not only is it something we’ve seen before, but it’s also usually never as good as the first.
By far the best thing about Stranger Things is the characters, who have captured the hearts of pretty much everyone.
It’s practically impossible to not like the cast. But what makes these characters stand out in this season, aside from their delightful charisma and relatability, is how much depth is explored through every single character.
In the first season, we got to learn a lot about the main protagonists and their families. However, it was great to learn more about Dustin and Lucas’ families in this season, seeing as though they were more or less the ‘comedic relief’ characters in the first season. Both of them have a pretty important arc, along with newcomer Max, which furthers my point that the Duffer Brothers did a really strong job at fleshing out every character.
This show isn’t always just about giant monsters and Demogorgons and the Upside Down, it also takes its time with the script to have meaningful conversations between different characters, having valuable scenes that are very much character driven. Through these, we get to learn about the various worries, struggles and personality traits about all these different residents of Hawkins.
What’s more impressive is how this series is continuously able to tug at our emotions, showing us heartfelt moments between different characters and their relationships.
Following the pretty upsetting farewell that Season 1 left us with, we revisit these characters and learn about how they’re coping with the aftermath of the Upside Down.
A pretty integral point in the second season focuses on Nancy and Jonathan finding justice for their friend Barbara, which if you’ve ever been on the internet, will have seen all the memes and appreciation posts about her character.
We also explore Mike’s grief following the loss of Eleven from the first season, which I must say, was an immaculate acting performance by both Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown.
Down to technicalities, Stranger Things is once again shot beautifully with amazing cinematography, a great script and strong acting performances from everyone.
But I really have to give recognition to the set designs and props that helped set the series in the 1980s. Not only that, the scenes shot in the Upside Down are once again both eerie and enticing, and you really need to appreciate the work that went into the way those sets were constructed.
Now I do have a few issue with Stranger Things Season 2.
The editing is a little strange at times, pun not intended. I don’t particularly recall if the first season had similar problems, but it did get a little on my nerves at times.
Now the main problem about the editing is the soundtracks. Stranger Things has always benefited from the 80s nostalgia, reminding us of what it was like then, without shoving all these 80s references down our throats. At times, the second season plays a little too much on nostalgia. I mean, I like Ghostbusters and Terminator references as much as the next guy, I just feel that the second season focused too much on these references.
Particularly during the first few episodes of the second season, it felt like the editors had just thrown in a pop or rock song from the 80s in almost every single scene. In fact, I suppose it could be compared to 2016’s Suicide Squad which also suffered from this, although obviously Stranger Things was easily not as bad.
This follows on to different problems such as inconsistency in the different moods.
Very often in the first few episodes there’ll be a bright pop song being blasted, and then it’ll immediately fade out and the scene will change into a more tense or emotional scene. The tonal difference is very bizarre and it’s very hard to take certain scenes seriously when there was just a very loud 80s rock song being played for nostalgia, which is a shame as the drama or suspense is often very well written.
Also the show tends to stray towards loud jump scare sound effects, which is something I constantly berate horror/thriller movies for doing. Now I wouldn’t exactly classify Stranger Things as horror, but for the most part, it does a pretty good job at elevating tension and suspense. In the very first episode of the first season, the scene where Will gets abducted is both heart-racing and terrifying.
While there are still several scenes that had me on edge at times, most of them had a pretty disappointing pay-off with a loud jump. What makes this worse is that sometimes the sound effect will go with something stupid like a bird or an animal, which creates these stupid false jump scares that add nothing to the scene.
Stranger Things Season 2 has its flaws, but considering the fleshed-out characters, well-developed story arcs, an exceptional script and gorgeous cinematography, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the minor issues. Stranger Things is still a great series, and I still have a blast binge-watching every season that comes out.
I can’t wait till Season 3 comes out next year, and I can’t wait to see where the Duffer Brothers take the series next.