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Why “Stranger Things” worked

Why “Stranger Things” worked

By Carmel Ilustrisimo

Spoilers ahead.

Recently, after confirming the second season of Stranger Things, the Duffer brothers have released the titles of the episodes of the next season, which will follow the format of the first one. There are also reports that the series will jump a bit ahead of time, maybe a year or so, since the child actors are growing rapidly. Actor David Harbour, who plays the cop Hopper, has also hinted that his character knows a lot more about Hawkins Laboratory and the Upside Down than was shown in the series, a tidbit that might be of value in the coming season.

This much we are sure of. Child star Millie Bobbie Brown, who plays the fan favorite Eleven, has revealed that she doesn’t know if she’ll be in the show next season. Her fans keep their fingers crossed.

READ: Million Dollar Millie

It’s easy to see why Stranger Things has become such a hit, taking the television world by storm. No one had seen it coming, nor expected it would be that big. But I think it’s the universality of this show that makes it popular. The plot is easy to follow, but compelling enough to keep you hooked episode after episode. The horror effects are stunning and realistic; a wonder considering the whole series looks like it could’ve been made in the 1980s, complete with its vintage filter, soundtrack, and fonts.

But most important is its charm. It draws both ’80s kids and millennials like moths to a flame. Its simplicity makes it closer to reality, despite the presence of monsters and psychic powers. Laden with cultural references, grown-up ’80s kids are thrown back into their youth, reliving their innocence and cringing at the backwardness that most of them (hopefully) have grown out of, along with society, although we still have a long way to equality beyond calling out people who use “queer” or the f word. For millennials, it’s the relative freedom of the young characters that’s attractive.

Nowadays, kids are rarely allowed to run around in the forest on their own, not to mention the sheer impossibility of letting a boy sleep undetected in your bed for a night or hiding a little girl in your basement for several days. For both the old and the young, it’s the relatable characters; parents who see themselves in Joyce and Hopper or both, teenagers who understand exactly what Nancy and Jonathan are going through, people who have deep-rooted childhood trauma and an intense longing to be loved and free like Eleven. Then there’s the love triangle, which is neither sappy nor the forefront of the story. Its charm also relies on how much is left to the imagination of the viewer. Stranger Things inspires wonder.

Naturally, this charm and sense of wonder should remain in the second season. In other words, writers and directors, please don’t turn Steve/Nancy/Jonathan into Twilight. Don’t focus too much on the spectacle or the scariness. The relationships add flavor to everything else, as long as they’re realistically written, and as long as the conflict that pushes the story forward is clean, understandable, and exciting enough to keep people constantly on the edge.

Speaking of the show working, will it still be good even if Eleven doesn’t return? It depends. Her mysterious character makes her all the more lovable, and we feel protective towards her. However, it would be nice to have a few things about her cleared up.

Expanding the lore of the Upside Down is also good idea; it will bring more to the imaginations of the viewers, especially if it’s instrumental in solving the main conflict, as it had been in the first season. Keep the innocence of the children, even if they’re starting to grow up, but make sure their struggles remain relatable to tweens and young teenagers watching the show. Makes us root for the characters, as they struggle through life and its constant strangeness. Make us expand our imaginations, as we get hooked more and more into a conflict-driven plot. These last two always said and easier said than done, but the strength of the show relies on them. They made the first season work.

Speaking of the show working, will it still be good even if Eleven doesn’t return? It depends. Her mysterious character makes her all the more lovable, and we feel protective towards her. However, it would be nice to have a few things about her cleared up. On the other hand, her ending leaves a pang in our hearts, which makes her character all the more powerful. The show might still work without her, though. There have been casting calls for two additional characters: a tomboyish 13-year-old girl and her brother, who rides a skateboard. Will they be as interesting or lovable as Eleven? Or at least bring completely unexpected and refreshing to the ensemble?

There’s also another new character on the list, Roman, described as a “gender-neutral” person who “suffered a great loss at an early age and has been seeking revenge ever since.” Will Roman be a protagonist or an antagonist, or a loved anti-hero? The new fan favorite or the loathed villain? We can’t wait to see, since Roman’s character description sounds the most interesting.

Last but not the least, give poor Barb some justice. Or at least a cleaner resolution for her arc.

Screencap from YouTube


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