In terms of TV shows, Netflix is doing a pretty fantastic job in competing with Hollywood and satellite TV. With shows like Orange is the New Black, 13 Reasons Why, BoJack Horseman and The Defenders, there is something on there for everyone. However, easily the most talked about show on the streaming service has to be Stranger Things. A TV show that popped out of nowhere, had a cast consisting of mainly newcomers and a story that references all the way back to the eighties surely shouldn’t have been as successful as it turned out to be.
With any successful show comes a second season, and the expectations are higher than ever. Does season two of Stranger Things live up to the first season?
With the exclusion of one particular episode and a couple of side-plots, I would say that this second season is in fact better than the first one. Granted, I was not the biggest fan of the first season and only found it to be mediocre. In this season, there is a lot more at stake and the drama and suspense is upped and throughout the season I was completely hooked.
Now, without giving away any spoilers, I will say that the characters in this show are unique and fitting to the world. In a lot of TV shows, once a trauma has occurred it is usually forgotten about and has no reflection on behaviours and manners of the characters. This is not the case with Stranger Things. In this show, the Duffer brothers have made sure that the characters reflect the recent experiences that they have gone through. This is clear through specific characters, such as Will and his mother, who were the most traumatised in the first season.
To support these character arcs are an incredible cast who nail every performance they give. The stars of the show are Millie Bobby Brown, who comes back better than ever and steals every scene she’s in as Eleven, and surprising David Harbour who plays Chief Hopper and gives such a nuanced performance that is the link to all of the main characters in this season. Other honourable mentions for season two has to go to the four young boys Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLoughlin and Noah Schnapp for their incredible acting and creating likeable characters (for the most part).
I also found the storyline and pacing of the season to be satisfying. Whilst other viewers might zone out at the start for the slow pace, I actually enjoyed that. We are left wondering what direction the show is going to take until roughly episode five, and the build up is fantastic to watch. The first four episodes brings us back to the world of Hawkins, Indiana and re-establishes the relationships between all of the characters. This also allows the first season to sink in, and see how the characters are coping before the next disaster occurs.
A show like this however is not without its flaws. If you have been keeping up with opinions and reviews of this season, it is clear that episode 7 “The Lost Sister” is controversial. I did not enjoy this episode one bit. First of all, the placement of this episode was completely messed up and disrupted the momentum of the fast pace the show was going towards. As well as that, the storyline of the episodes and the characters featured in this episode were not enjoyable to watch. This isn’t put down to the acting, and I don’t blame the actors who portrayed them. This is down to bad writing, as all of the characters are cliched and very generic. In most cases, this would have been a mediocre episode in any show. However, with a show with such high standards as Stranger Things, this is way below par.
One other issue I had with this season was the inclusion of teenage angst amongst Mike, Dustin and Lucas. This all came from a relationship situation when a new girl is trying to mix in with the group. Once again, I do not blame the actress (Sadie Sink) for her bland storyline with the boys. I blame the writing. It felt like a waste of character development to throw in a new girl just to show the boys going through hormonal changes and “relatable teen drama”. It was very bland and took away from the real drama of the show.
This season was a lot more entertaining to watch, and in general everything was improved. The CGI was gorgeous, something that even big Hollywood blockbusters can’t even fully manage yet. The acting was superb, and a lot of open-ended storylines and arcs got closed off to a satisfactory ending. It is obvious that there is going to be a third season, and I hope that once again the team steps up their game and creates another fantastic season to watch.