The Reviews are In, and The Kids are Back

If you haven’t watched it, you need to binge Stranger Things. 

When the show first popped up on Netflix in 2016, I watched it simply because I needed a new show to watch and re-watching Friends for the 8th time seemed pathetic. I had no expectations going into the first season binge, but if I had, the show would have shattered them. 

Warning: If you haven’t watched either season of Stranger Things yet, go do that now. Mild spoilers ahead. 

The first season of the show delighted me. It takes place in a small town in Indiana in the 1980s, and centers around a group of kids and their connection to these strange phenomena that keep popping up around them. The nostalgia alone would have been enough to keep my interest piqued, with the allusions to The Goonies, Stand by Me, and E.T. out in full force, but fortunately, the show also provides a complex storyline, superb acting, humor, and character development to keep people hooked. 

At the end of the first season, Will, one of the party members, returns from the Upside Down, the parallel dimension that has been opened seemingly due to terrible oversight in the science department of Hawkins Lab. He coughs up a tiny slug thing that presumably is from the Upsode Down, and this is the central event marking the beginning of the second season’s conflict. 

Picking up a year after the end of the first season, the second season of Stranger Things offers a “trying to get back to normal and realizing that it’s futile” vibe. When the show picks up, it’s important to remember that it’s been a year — a year of development, of growth, and for some, heartache. So, let’s dissect where each of the characters are when we begin season two. 

The Adults

Joyce has a new boyfriend in Bob, played by Sean Astin, and he’s actually kind of awesome. He’s a super nerd and tries to get in with the whole family. While, he doesn’t know everything about the past year, he seems to love Joyce and the boys for who they are. 

Hopper is keeping Eleven in a literal cabin in the woods for her own protection. He’s like her dad, but not like her Papa, so there’s that. But, we get to see the softer side of Hopper in his interactions with Eleven throughout the season. And also some not so soft sides too. 

The Teens

Steve and Nancy are still together, and Jonathan is the best big brother ever. 

The Party Members

Let’s start with Dustin. Dustin seems to be the most well-adjusted member of the party in that he tries to pretend as if nothing happened in the past year. He has teeth now, and he flaunts that fact confidently. His affinity for nougat comes into play more than once, and his love of science and play helps to break the tension. 

Will is around, which is cool. He is still dealing with the whole Upside Down thing and between that and his overprotective mother, his plate is full. The slug vomiting has stopped, but throughout the season, we’ll find out what that’s all about.

Then, there’s Lucas. Lucas gets a new love interest in Max (see below). He struggles with the events from the last year and feels loyal to his party members. As usual, Lucas is the voice of reason, and his younger sister is the comic relief we all need. 

And finally, Mike and Eleven. The two are separated for most of the season, but their connection remains at the forefront of their storylines. Mike is no longer the leader figure of the party because he’s heartbroken at the loss of his first love. He calls for her via the radio every night in hopes that she hears him. It’s sweet and sad all at once. Eleven searches for identity, knowledge, and meaning throughout the season. We first see her and we interaction with Hopper, and while she seems to miss Mike, her storyline is more complex than simple heartbreak this season, and I dig it. 

The Newbie

Max is the newest addition to the Party, though not everyone is on board with that decision right away. She’s a skater, an arcade master, and a snarky chick that refuses to be made a victim. Her older step-brother is a roided our asshole, whose path crosses with the kids and babysitter Steve on multiple occasions throughout the season. I don’t want to give too much away, but I like the new addition to the squad and hope they don’t just use her as a love interest moving forward. 

In short, if you want to be enveloped in a world of paranormal nostalgia, grab some Eggos and check out Stranger Things on Netflix. It’s worth the binge and extra calories. 

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