Cautious optimism about season two of 'Stranger Things'
The second season of "Stranger Things" drops tonight, and I’m preparing for one heck of a binge.
Amidst the tomfoolery of Halloween partying and pumpkin patching, I plan on setting aside nine hours of my weekend to support Eleven and the gang. Numbers pun.
I’ll admit I’m a bit guarded in my expectations. While the feedback generally revolves around the notion that season two lives up to the hype -- a difficult feat considering the tremendous success of season one -- there is no denying that a certain pressure exists where there previously was none. Or at least very little.
The ‘Netflix Original’ tag may be more synonymous with over-saturation than prestigious programing these days, but it still demands a certain standard of quality. Outside of that, nobody seemed to expect too much from "Stranger Things’" inaugural offering.
Aside from Winona Ryder and David Harbour, the cast members were virtually unknown, as were the show creators, Ross and Matt Duffner. The pitch was reportedly rejected by 15-20 networks before Netflix finally offered the Duffner Brothers a deal. Put simply, there was widespread skepticism about the potential success of the show.
That didn’t last.
Aided by a promotional push from the world’s #1 streaming service and an eerie trailer that promised mystery and monsters galore, a reported 8.2 million viewers decided to binge watch the shit out of "Stranger Things" in July of 2016.
I, personally, couldn’t put down the proverbial book. There was just something about it; an undeniable aura of fun that often gets overlooked these days. Silly, dramatic, even a bit terrifying for the faint-of-heart (not me… I’m brave…), but most importantly, fun. "Stranger Things" has the sort of mass appeal that television executives dream about all while remaining creatively ambitious.
More importantly, it wasn’t out of necessity. As Alan Sepinwall pointed out in a July, 2016 review for UPROXX, “The market for nostalgia is so robust that "Stranger Things" probably could have gotten away with parading a bunch of ’80s actors and references across the screen with minimal effort and creativity beyond that.”
But there was no settling. A great deal of care was put into this script. Whether it was a love for the ‘80s or an obsession with the influencing genres, the Duffner Brothers delivered a near-flawless product on their first go-round.
It felt like a Stephen King novel or a Steven Spielberg film. It felt like a tribute and an original at the same time. It felt like we were watching the byproduct of passion and hunger from a brand new crop of stars both on-screen and behind the camera. That message seemed to resonate with all who decided to push play.
Alas, we’ve arrived at the second season, appropriately released on Halloween weekend. There’s just enough time to burn through nine episodes before the holiday is upon us and I still don’t know what to expect.
I’m invested. I’m hopeful. Hell, I’m even cautiously optimistic. But I won’t really know how to feel until the final credits roll.
When that time comes, I’ll get back to you with a review. Until then, embrace the fun monster show and have yourselves a Happy Halloween.