The following article originally appeared in Juniata High School's newspaper The Arrowhead.
*Spoiler and content warning* - This article contains spoilers and plot details from seasons 1 and 2 of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest that you binge watch it. Go. Binge it all right now, and then come back and read this article.
Season one of Stranger Things took every watcher by surprise. It’s not often that you find a nostalgic, historically accurate TV show set in the eighties that has just as much action as something written by King or directed by Spielberg. It has won many awards since its airing in July 2016, including five Emmy awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Additionally, Stranger Things features a brilliant variety of people in their cast, and within 35 days of its release it had 21.7 million views, placing it just behind Orange is the New Black for the most popular Netflix show ever. Its popularity is one that will be remembered. However, the hesitancy to watch the second season was building in the backs of watchers’ minds. Is it worth it to watch it, or will I just be disappointed?
Let me just say, it is most definitely worth it. New characters were brought into the mix, and they just added to the show’s deepening plot. The second season goes further in depth concerning the psychological effects that Will, Mike, Joyce, and Eleven are dealing with in the aftermath of Will’s time in the Upside-Down and their experiences with the Demogorgon. Will can’t seem to tell what is real from what is just in his head, and his connection with the Upside-Down grows with every passing day. Mike, on the other hand, is dealing with the grief of seeing Eleven sacrifice herself and refuses to believe her dead. Joyce has to adjust to handling a distraught Will and grapples with not knowing exactly what is happening to him. Eleven is struggling with the loneliness and abandonment she feels as she realizes that Mike and his friends have “replaced” her in their friend group. The writers were brilliant for including this as one of the main driving points of the plot. Also, the abuse that Billy and Max deal with at home explains why they act the way they do, almost perfectly. I feel like the producers went into a lot of thought when it came to the emotional and mental factors of the show this season, more so than in the first season.
The plot itself was also better. We saw the Demogorgon in the previous season, and we knew that it came from the Upside-Down, but we didn't know much of anything else about this monster or its home. It turns out there was something else that lurked on the other side. The Mind Flayer, the evil entity that controls Will and the “mother” of the Demogorgon, is the antagonist of this season. Just the fact that the villain went from a “child” to an “adult” says a lot about what the characters have gone through.
All in all, Stranger Things has upgraded itself. What we lacked in the first season, we were granted in the second. I was personally very happy with how it turned out. If Stranger Things continues to grow as it did from the first season to the second, Stranger Things 3 is going to perhaps be the biggest hit of them all.