Stranger Things was first released on Netflix in the summer of 2016, and to put it simply, it was great. The characters and their bond, the soundtrack, and the visuals along with all the nostalgic winks to the past was captivating and enjoyable. It was great entertainment; it was art.
We wish we could say the same for season 3. Unfortunately we don’t think it lived up to fans’ expectations. As fans, we expected to explore more of the upside down since we have only been teased by it so far. Brief glimpses from the lab and flashbacks or hallucinations from Will is really all we had seen leading up to season 3 of this once spectacular show. To this point it had remained mysterious, which was part of the appeal, and with only 4 seasons scheduled it was expected that we would see more of this decaying parallel realm. Instead of that we got to explore teen love...over and over and over again. So 80’s. Let down number 1.
Let down number 2 is even bigger. At the beginning of Season 2, it was revealed to us that Eleven was...well... number 11: Eleven of an unknown number of children subjected to captivity and strange testing, resulting in supernatural abilities. This plot line was only briefly teased in the entirety of Season 2. Were we the only ones who wanted to see more of that in Season 3?
For us, those were the two major pieces left missing, leaving the rest of the story feeling empty and desperate. There were countless scenes inflated with pointless dialogue and used up humor making us wonder if the Duffer brothers could have fit the deflatable plot into just four episodes instead of eight.
Instead of plot, character development and general substance season 3 of Stranger Things filled the screen with every bit of 80’s nostalgia possible. Every last bit. The show went from an intimate time piece to a glittery, desperate pandering pageant. It felt formulaic, designed to appeal to 80’s and early 90’s kids. Were the 80’s even that 80’s? The colors on screen seemed more saturated and the brand placement was so thick we almost gagged. At PixelNinjaz, we love commercial art, but the branding in this season was too much. Season 3 of Stranger Things seemed like it really sold out.
The latest season wasn’t all bad. The Russian terminator was somewhat enjoyable (still felt desperate) and the new, bigger hive-minded demogorgon was disgustingly entertaining...even though that was still a bit too reminiscent of the 80’s hit The Thing, but we don’t need to talk about that. Overall, Stranger Things Season 3 was fun, but it lost its spark.