Warning: The following review contains spoilers for season one of “Stranger Things.”
“Stranger Things” was one of several—if not the largest—pop culture icons of 2016. Exploding into mainstream attention, the show premiered on Netflix last year on July 15th. With its strong multigenerational cast and a visual flare filled to the brim with 80’s references, the show grabbed people’s intrigue and never let go, becoming a powerhouse in pop culture.
“It’s kind of weird since there’s so much hype around it,” junior business marketing major Shea O’ Gorman said. “A lot of people want to resist the trend, but I say get over it and watch it because it’s a great show, and it will leave you hooked.”
With such a large following, it’s no wonder Netflix picked it up for a second season. Ever since the intense Season One cliffhanger, fans have been anxiously anticipating the show’s return. Announcements and Season Two trailers went viral almost immediately and many people excitingly looked forward to Oct. 27, 2017: The day they would discover what happened to Eleven and the rest of the gang.
Considering the hype, it could have been easy for the second season to have entered what is known as a “sophomore slump.” However, this proved not to be the case, as the show continued to build on exactly what made the first season memorable in the first place.
Taking place a year after the events of the first season, the residents of Hawkins, Indiana find themselves in new status quo. The kids find themselves in the middle of adolescent awkwardness; the teenagers deal with both loss and love as a love triangle starts to emerge; and the adults build new friendships that remind them of a time when everyone used to be simple.
In the center of all the chaos is Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), who after successfully escaping from the Upside Down deals with a heavy onset of seemingly post-traumatic stress disorder. However, as Halloween approaches, more questions start to emerge. Are Will’s mysterious visions more than just delusions? How does this relate back to Eleven and the lab?
These are the questions that help successfully bring a viewer into the world of Hawkins, Indiana. The lore of the show makes viewers constantly guess if they know these characters at all, providing a great sense of intrigue that is consistent throughout the season.
“I like the unknown and the spooky nature of it,” said freshman psychology major James Zarres.
Season Two continues to showcase the same strong characters of the first season. The kids are just as well-acted and funny as before, and the older cast continues to shine when dealing with complex scenarios. Each returning character develops in a way that is not dependent on the first season, which is refreshing to see.
The second season also gives some recurring characters more of a spotlight than before. Joe Keery is able to give a more two-dimensional performance for Steve, and Noah Schnapp in particular provides an impressive performance as the emotionally conflicted Will.
“[Noah Schnapp] seems like a great actor,” cinematic arts professor Jay New said. “I can’t imagine how difficult it is to carry the weight of that role at that age.”
The show also introduces new characters who, while not as interesting as the main cast, still provide a valuable source of intrigue and entertainment. Maxine “Madmax” Mayfield (Sadie Sink) creates hilarious tension between the boys, and Bob Newby (Sean Astin) does a great job of providing peace for some characters and giving a massive headache to others.
Naturally, with so many storylines to juggle, some work better than others. While the moments with the kids continue to be amazing, some of the scenes involving the other older characters might strike a nerve as they can be repetitive and cliché at points. That being said, each character has their own way of connecting to the story, and the show’s ambition is something that should be admired.
Season Two overall creates an intriguing second venture into the Upside Down. Whether or not it is better than the first season may depend on the viewer, but one thing is for sure: The show is here to stay, and hopefully it continues to build on its solid momentum.
The first two seasons of “Stranger Things” are currently available for streaming on Netflix. A third season has already been confirmed by creators Ross and Matt Duff, although an official release date has yet to be announced.