Thoughts on Stranger Things 2

***WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS ON STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2

 

As most of the world knows, the second season of the Netflix sci-fi thriller Stranger Things premiered on Friday, Oct. 27. Due to the popularity of the series’ first season, this new batch of episodes was highly anticipated, and personally, I think they delivered. Mostly, I am just so glad they didn’t do the ‘thing’ that so many TV shows do when they have a successful first season. The ‘thing’ I’m referring to is when a show is so well-received, that when it comes time to produce a follow-up, they take every part of the show that they think the viewers loved and try to recreate it in the new season. The result of this is that they end up exploiting these details and totally ruining why the show works in the first place. Stranger Things 2 doesn’t do that. They make reference to and draw parallels from the previous season—such as Eleven finally attending the Snow Ball with Mike and Joyce and putting Will’s drawings together like she put up the Christmas lights the year before—but they don’t overdo it, thankfully. They maintained the 80s-horror-movie aura and had a similar story arch, but new characters and discoveries gave this season a fresh new take on Hawkins and the Upside Down.

Speaking of new characters, I have to admit that I did not like Max. I know she’s supposed to be a tough chick, but I found her kind of annoying. After checking myself for internalized misogyny, I realize that no, she really is annoying. Seeing how her horrible, violent, racist and sexist step-brother Billy (who is terribly good-looking, which the creators definitely did on purpose to make it harder to hate him) treats her is supposed to make us sympathize with her, which it does, but I still couldn’t get on board the MADMAX train. She seems to think she’s better than Dustin and Lucas, and always speaks to the boys as though she’s already pissed off at what they’re going to say.

A new character I did like was Murray Bauman. I didn’t like the character himself that much, but his function—a detective hired by Barb’s parents to find their missing child—was entirely necessary. Something that happens a lot in on-screen storylines is that the writers seem to forget that often, the rest of the world is still watching. Saying that Will “got lost in the woods” was a weak yet swallowable explanation for everything that the public witnessed, but Barb was still missing. So, to have Murray there to stand in for the fact that people would’ve started to connect the dots at least a little was comforting, because there was way too much weird stuff going on for nobody else to notice.

Speaking of Will, he definitely deserves some recognition this season. Though he was mostly absent from the action last season as he was stuck in the Upside Down, Will’s problems—especially compared to those of his friends—somehow get worse. I mean, here Will is trying to fend off a virus from the underworld infecting his body and erasing his memories and trying to destroy his family and friends and the human race as they know it, and Dustin and Lucas are fighting over a girl. Will definitely needs some hardcore therapy after the past year or so of his young life. Come to think of it, so does Joyce. Actually, everyone on this show really needs to talk to a professional.

Nobody needs intensive therapy more, though, than Eleven, a.k.a the baddest b*tch in town. Now, I’m torn, because Eleven is so cool, but she is probably only that cool because of how she developed due to her trauma. Her powers came from growing up in a lab and having scientists and doctors prod at her until she basically became a superhuman. Even calling her Eleven rather than her real name, Jane, feels insensitive, considering  ‘011’ was the dehumanizing label tattooed on her by the “bad men” as a substitute for an identity. Still, it is undeniable that she absolutely slayed that 80s punk look. I mean, that jacket? The makeup? That hair? Speaking of her makeover, seeing her “sister” was an unexpected addition, but spending an entire episode on it felt excessive.

To wrap up everyone else: Bob was sweet but I knew he would be sacrificed to the Demadogs; I don’t really care for Jonathan and Nancy, mostly because I don’t like Jonathan—he gives me pretentious soft boy vibes. Steve Harrington is the world’s best and worst babysitter with the best and worst hair; Mike was under-utilized, but he and Eleven’s ultimate reunion and subsequent dance/kiss/loving stare at the Snow Ball made me cry; Hopper playing dad with Eleven made my heart melt; and when Joyce started chain-smoking, you knew sh*t was about to go down.