With its sci-fi thrills and eighties throwbacks, Stranger Things, a Netflix Original Series, became an immediate hit following its launch in July of 2016.
Set in 1984, the first season begins with the vanishing of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). Unbeknownst to his friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Will has been kidnapped by a demogorgon and taken to an alternate universe called the Upside Down. In their search for Will, the boys stumble upon a strange girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who has escaped from the secretive Hawkins Laboratory. With the help of Eleven’s mysterious powers, Will’s mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) and police chief David Hopper (David Harbour) travel to the Upside Down and narrowly save the missing boy. The high school-aged siblings of Mike and Will, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), are other major characters, in addition to Nancy’s boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery). The final episode ends with a cliffhanger: Will vomiting a slug-like creature into the sink and a flash of visions from the Upside Down.
Season One was a success, earning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and the MTV Movie and TV Awards’ Show of the Year award. The producers, Shawn Levy, Matt Duffer, and Ross Duffer, received the Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television. Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, was recognized for her outstanding performance with the MTV Movie and TV Awards’ trophy for Best Actor in a Show.
Fortunately, Season Two is just as entertaining and clever as the first.
We soon learn that Eleven, presumed dead, is alive and living with Hopper, who eventually adopts her. The slug will vomited at the end of Season One is a demadog, a dog-like demogorgon also spawned from the Upside Down that kills Joyce’s new boyfriend Bob (Sean Astin). Besides Bob, there are lots of new characters, including Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who was raised in the lab with Eleven; Max (Sadie Sink), who joins the core group of boys (though I feel her relationship with Lucas distracts from Mike and Eleven, the true power couple); and Billy (Dacre Montgomery), Steve’s high school rival. The development of Steve’s character in Season Two makes him one of my favorites: he transforms from jock to babysitter as he takes Dustin, Mike, Will, Lucas, and Max under his wing. Like the previous season, this one has both a happy ending and a cliffhanger. Mike and Eleven finally kiss at the Snowball Dance (with Every Breath You Take playing in the background), but the last image is the Hawkins Middle School gym in the Upside Down, a shadow monster surrounded by lightning gazing angrily upon it.
Netflix has announced that Stranger Things will continue for a third season with the same cast, and of course I am beyond excited for its release. If you like sci-fi or just enjoy good television, this series is a pleasure to watch!