At This Point, “Stranger Things” Is Too Familiar


Nina Flores

Season 3 of “Stranger Things” came out in July 2019.

Andrew Mello, News Editor

Rating: 2.5/5 Falcons

After a rushed and uneventful second season, I expected interest in Stranger Things to wane and imagined the show—with the ’80s schlock it holds so dear—fading into obscurity. But still, the Netflix machine prevailed and, roughly two years later, a third season arrived undeterred. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy any of season three of Stranger Things, but I realized I was still hooked into the circle of monsters and mysteries the show has been spinning since 2016. The child characters have noticeably matured between the years, but everything else seemed to be the same. And therein lies the problem. 

With a tightly-packed mystery in the first season, the Duffer Brothers wrote themselves into a corner by finishing it with a satisfying conclusion. Yet even after that, the writers were undoubtedly under crippling pressure to deliver more of what people wanted. To their credit, they did just that …  and nothing more. In season two, the mystery and tension always seemed to happen the same way as it did in the first, so the audience could predict exactly how things would be resolved from episode one. Season three is no different, and almost shows more of its hand to the audience than its predecessor. In episode two, we see both the Russian plot and the invasion of the body snatchers that are meant to resolve the season cutting through the tension of the show and making the next six episodes irrelevant. 

One improvement in this season, though, that cannot be downplayed is the effort that was put into the focus and lighting of the whole show. While it had a story to lean back on, the first season can look tacky or grimey in areas, with little to no visual language. In this latest season, on the other hand, the camera gains a personality that is sorely lacking in most TV today. A shot of Hopper’s blown up and silhouetted hand cocking his pistol made me sit up a little straighter as I waited for what was behind the door. Small touches like this are scattered throughout the season and are just enough to keep you from turning it off but not enough to be fully engaging. After these few glimmers of interest, though, we enter comes another scene of yell-fighting between the monster of the week and Eleven, whose power level overshadows the relevance of everyone else on the cast as she remains the least interesting character in the show. If the audience is more engaged in the dating life of a kid who peaked in high school over the superpowered badass, the show has significant flaws.

It is a shame to see such a talented cast running in circles.”

It’s not hard to see that the appeal of the show isn’t in the plot, or writing, but the characters and their reactions to things beyond comprehension. Watching a chief of police challenge his own convictions and chase down what well could be a dead-end is infinitely more engaging than a fourth monster in three years’ time terrorizing this town. However, it is a shame to see such a talented cast running circles. 

As with a majority of their other originals, Netflix kept Stranger Things alive long enough to learn again there’s only so much blood to be drawn from stone. With every shameless recycle of the same story, the cycle seems less unusual, but the audience never seems any the wiser. As long as there are people ready to binge through nine hours of Stranger Things, they will never be without a new season of the same show.

This piece also appears in our September 2019 print edition.