For many, there is one thing that can transform an amazing, original TV series into a total bore: predictability.
It makes sense when you think about it; why would you be excited to watch something you’ve already seen a million times before? Thankfully, the popular Netflix show, “Stranger Things,” has managed to avoid this inevitable television trap for the third consecutive time.
With each new season, the Duffer Brothers — the creators, directors and writers of the show — have brought us something new while maintaining what makes us love and relate to their characters.
“Stranger Things” first debuted on Netflix on July 15, 2016. Now, three years later, the show has returned after a successful second installment with its third season. This time, the stars of the show have gotten older, bringing more mature elements and problems to the series and its fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.
Kids growing up
The Netflix original first began with the capture of Will Byers, a pre-teen boy, by the terrifying monster known as the Demogorgon, which came from “The Upside Down” (another dimension that is exactly like ours, only darker and full of monsters eager to take over our world). Will’s mom Joyce, Hawkins’s Chief of Police Jim Hopper, and Will’s three friends — Mike, Lucas and Dustin — team up with Eleven (a young girl with telekinetic abilities) to save Will and defeat the Demogorgon.
Meanwhile, Will’s older brother Jonathan forms a close friendship with Nancy, a high school girl, whose best friend Barbara was also killed by the Demogorgon. Though Jonathan and Nancy like each other, their relationship is compromised by Nancy’s popular and overly naive boyfriend Steve.
In season 2, our characters deal with the after-effects of the first season and a whole new monster, known as the Shadow Monster or Mind Flayer, that also comes from The Upside Down. The Mind Flayer possesses Will and lives off of him like a parasite, spying on the other characters and the rest of Hawkins through him.
Nancy breaks up with Steve and teams up with Jonathan once again to avenge her murdered friend. Don’t feel too badly for ol’ Steve, though. He becomes friends with the other boys, particularly Dustin, and helps them in their quest to defeat the Mind Flayer. This season also introduced us to new characters, such as Max and her aggressive older stepbrother Billy.
Now, in the newest installment of “Stranger Things” that premiered July 4, we go back to the summer of ‘85, with our main characters developing into teenagers and preparing to enter high school in the fall.
In this third season, the Mind Flayer is desperate to take over our world once again. We watch as our characters adjust to teenage life and how four of them (Mike and Eleven, Lucas and Max) begin to date one another. This leads to the stereotypical problem of them spending way too much time “hanging out” with each other.
I’m not one to be antagonistic toward “young love,” but this all seems a little ridiculous and, honestly, takes away from the originality of the show. I mean, think of all the teen-based movies and TV programs you’ve seen. How many of them involve unnecessary, over-the-top romances? Just about all of them! Yes, we understand lots of teenagers date throughout high school, but these kids are still really young to be taking their relationships this seriously.
Will and Dustin both want to spend their summer hanging out and playing “Dungeons and Dragons” in Mike’s basement like they always have. When you look at the time Will has lost from his childhood escaping the horrors of The Upside Down, you can understand why he wants to keep things just as they are.
Dustin is only able to find solace by decoding a secret Russian message with his now-friend Steve, Lucas’ younger sister Erica, and the newest member of the “Stranger Things” gang, Robin.
Robin is an absolutely perfect addition and is one of my favorite things about the new season. With her on board, Steve has an easier time expressing his struggle with graduating from high school and adjusting to life and work in the real world. The two of them share some of the funniest moments of the season together and show what it’s really like going through high school. They talk about being trapped by social “cliques,” like popularity and nerd-dom, and how their friendship defies those stereotypes.
I also love Max and Eleven’s developing friendship. This third installment is the first time that Eleven experiences what it means to be a teenage girl in the ‘80s, with Max right there by her side. Whether it be having a crush on Ralph Macchio, dealing with clueless boyfriends, or looking up to strong female figures like Wonder Woman, they embrace it all together.
Though season 3 is filled with humor, heart, and the characters we’ve grown to love as our own friends, this wasn’t my personal favorite season of “Stranger Things.” Despite being unpredictable and unique, it was far more mature and graphic in nature than what is typical of the series.
While “Stranger Things” has always been suspenseful, this season took a turn for the horror genre and was at times filled with dark, unsettling content.
In addition, although the season was original, the plot was considerably more far-fetched than ever before. Honestly, it gave me quite the “Rocky IV” vibes, what with its involvement of merciless Russians up to no good.
However, even with its cons, “Stranger Things 3” is a must for those who are already fans of the show or anyone who wants to jump aboard the franchise. It’s a crazy, outrageous rollercoaster ride of sci-fi, telekinesis, evil Russians, and, most importantly, love and friendship defying all odds like never before.
To me, this season’s slogan says it all: “One summer can change everything.”
Siena Cummings will be a junior at Fremont High School this fall. She loves old books and movies, some of her favorites being “The Outsiders” and “Little Women.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.