Stranger Things is Too Afraid to be Interesting (Spoilers)


Netflix’s Stranger Things is one of the most popular shows in the past ten years. With loveable characters, interesting ideas, and a story that keeps you hooked, it makes sense why the show is so popular. However, this popularity put the show writers in a somewhat bad position, as the show wasn’t really supposed to go on for as long as it has. The show’s creators pitched the show as an anthology and the original characters were supposed to leave after season one, and season two was supposed to be an entirely new story. Yet, once season one was released, the public latched onto the characters and it became clear that if Netflix were to make a season two, it would need to bring back the characters that were universally loved among the viewers of the show.

Once season two was released, one of the main problems of the show started to reveal itself, the fear of challenging the audience. Season two is widely regarded as the worst season of the show, and it’s easy to see why. With very few new ideas, side plots that don’t go anywhere, and a finale that seems desperate for a new season, Stranger Things 2 is a weaker season compared to the rest of the show. This isn’t to say that the season is bad, as a matter of fact, I’d argue that the show is better than the majority of shows airing on Netflix right now, however even if the show is good it can still have problems.

These problems have not exactly left the show, sadly. With both season three and season four, the show has fallen into a somewhat repetitive cycle, where new characters are introduced, given enough charm to win over the audience, then killed off by the end of the season in order to make the audience feel sad. The show has done this for three seasons now, and every time it happens it’s more disappointing. The main problem with this cycle is that the older characters are seemingly invincible, being able to do things that no other person could do with almost no risk. The fact that this happens only with the characters that have been around for a while means that the audience is never really worrying about the main characters actually leaving the story, and therefore the story doesn’t really have any stakes. This is best seen in the season four finale, where series newcomer Eddie Munson is killed and series mainstay Max Mayfield gets a fake death. The fact that the writers were too afraid to challenge the audience by killing one of the beloved characters is somewhat disrespectful, as they don’t trust the audience to feel the loss of a significant death. So, as of right now, the show has an overwhelming feeling of blandness. Yes, it’s sad that Eddie sacrifices himself, but narratively Eddie wouldn’t have really done anything in season five.
Yes, this entire review may be a bit harsh. I’m aware that even though this show has mainstream appeal, at its core it’s basically a kids’ show. Like other kid shows, the majority of the cast are kids, teens, or young adults, there are never really stakes for the main characters, and the violence is almost entirely fantasy based. Making this comparison actually somewhat helps the show, as it makes some of its faults a bit more excusable in the lens of kids needing to be able to understand what’s going on.

However, I must say that even though this show has faults, I’d be lying if I wasn’t excited for season 5. The writers of this show have shown tremendous talent and have kept millions of people around the world incredibly invested in the characters. Hopefully, season 5 will not only be a satisfying ending but also fix some of the show’s problems and solidify Stranger Things as one of the best shows Netflix has ever produced.