Hi everybody, it’s your resident pop culture nerd McKenna here, and I’m going to talk to you about Stranger Things. And, well, Stranger Things 2, too.
First—why not call it Strangerer Things? #missedopportunity
Two—OH MY GOSH.
I’ll just start by saying that generally, I’m pretty picky when it comes to sequels, mostly because they’re AWFUL*. Ice Age 2: The Meltdown wakes me up in cold sweats, Spider-man 2 is solid but nowhere near as bad as Spider-man 3 with Tobey Maguire’s weird dancing, (also in consideration: The Amazing Spider-man 2: JUST. WHY.), Grease 2 (what the actual HECK is this movie), and don’t even get me STARTED on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Or The Lion King 2. Or the Gilmore Girls revival. (I could go on here for awhile).
So, needless to say, when things are named, “blah blah blah… 2,” I’m usually pretty reluctant to watch or see them. When I heard that the Duffer Brothers had titled the second season, Stranger Things 2, I groaned aloud. It was, like every other sequel, going to be terrible.
But I’m a devoted fan of the first season (in that I own three ST shirts, Funko!Pops of Mike, Dustin, Will, Lucas, and Eleven, several pins, and stickers), so I marked my calendar and went on with my life.
Then, as October 27th neared, trailers were released to the media, and being the pop culture fanatic that I am, I immediately watched them.
And. It. Hit.
I was so EXCITED. The trailers weren’t hokey (as many TV shows and movies made in the 2000’s but set in the 80’s tend to be), and all of my favorite characters had an appearance onscreen. There were just enough jump cuts and scares that it got my heart racing a bit, and I couldn’t help but think: Maybe this will be better than most other sequels.
And you know what?
I was half-expecting every emotion felt in last season to be glossed over. I would’ve thought that Mike’s feelings for Eleven were brushed aside for some other minimal plot, or that we wouldn’t see him grieve. I thought that Will, like last season, would be benched in favor of his friends having to save the world again. I also thought that these new characters, no matter how interesting they may be, would ultimately take a back seat to the original cast. I expected to see Hopper return to his old ways and try to forget about the Demogorgon, or that Nancy and Jonathan forget the bond they forged in the midst of battle. Heck, I expected Steve to go back to his dumb high school boy ways and try to bury everything.
But the strangest thing about Stranger Things 2 is that they acknowledged everything.
We see Mike’s grief. We see Eleven’s grief. We see her being alone. We see Dustin being the creative genius he is, even when his friends wouldn’t listen to his ideas last season, and we see Steve, the real MVP of ST2, befriending him and not belittling him. We see Lucas crush on a girl, we see Nancy and Jonathan recognizing their relationship, and we see Will—poor Will—doing his best to hide the fact that he still sees the Upside Down from his family and friends. And Noah Schnapp, who plays Will? That kid can ACT. Well, all the kids can, that’s for sure, but Schnapp is the standout. Watching his exorcism scene is truly one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done, because just watching him twist and contort his body is enough to make you want to be sick. But the screams he lets out—boy do they get you.
But every terrifying and sickening bit is gently overlaid by a sweet moment. Mike and Eleven’s reunion made me cry. It was these two kids who have a sort of love for each other (they’re what, 12-14 in this? I’m not going to say they’re in love, because they’re KIDS), and they’re brought back together, and it’s one of the sweetest points because you can see how much they mean to each other.
Honestly, this show is great. It’s spooky, perfect for Halloween, and has a bunch of sweet moments. Also, it’s just damn good. The suspense is enough to keep you guessing, and I can’t wait to see where the show will go.
*Only exceptions: Shrek 2, and 102 Dalmatians.