Netflix has officially granted Stranger Things a second season. We really dug the show and enjoyed the supernatural mystery that played out over the short eight-episode run, even as it raised a number of questions that will certainly play to a second season.
While we wait for the second season to arrive on Netflix, let's go over what we'd like to see in the show's sophomore season.
More geeky book references and different influences
Stranger Things contained a metric ton of references to a whole host of classic movies and novels from the 1980s, ranging from Stephen King to E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. There’s every reason to expect that the show’s creators will do the same with the next season.
While we love a good reference-fest, one of the things that we really want to see the show do is pull in from a different set of source material. Reportedly, James Cameron will be a major influence on what’s to come (which makes sense, given that his followups to Alien and Terminator were both excellent). But we’d love to see the show’s creators pull out some zany references, such as David Lynch, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg.
More of an anthology feel
One thing that we’re really hoping for is more of an anthology-style Season 2. The Duffer Brothers have already noted that they’re hoping for more of a "sequel" feel for next season: "We want to retain the tone. But I think all our favorite sequels feel a little different. It’s not about just another monster comes and it’s a bigger, badder monster. We want it to feel a little bit different, maybe a little bit darker, but still have the sense of fun."
With the huge push for anthology shows going on right now (think True Detective, American Horror Story, American Crime, or Fargo), Stranger Things seems like it’s one of those stories that’s perfect for similar treatment, with the Upside Down world and the Department of Energy’s experiments as a focal point.
The cast and characters of Season 1 were fantastic and the show left us pretty satisfied with the results. Introducing a bunch of new characters in the same world could be a solid move going forward, with each season drawing on its own set of influences and nostalgia.
Less reliance on nostalgia
Speaking of nostalgia, Stranger Things’ first season relied heavily on it, almost to a fault. We’ve all seen the side-by-side comparisons, but nostalgia can be tricky to navigate. Too much, and it just becomes pandering, which was one of the main (few) complains of this show in the first place.
For the next season, the show’s creators should pull back on relying on the audience’s nostalgia for 1980s films and books, and make the story stand on its own. References are almost certainly going to be part of the story moving forward, but there are only so many times that an audience is going to sit through a show that cribs from E.T./Close Encounters/Aliens type story, even if we get a whole new set of references to borrow from.
More depth to the characters
Another season gives the show more of an opportunity to play with its characters, and we’re hoping it gives them a bit more depth. Case in point: Winona Ryder delivered a great performance as Joyce Byers, but when you get right down to it, all that we see of her is a grieving mother, essentially just one layer to what appears to be a fairly complex character.
There’s a whole range of characters surrounding the central cast, such as Matthew Modine’s Dr. Brenner and Randall P. Havens’ Mr. Clark, who played fairly important roles. But we know very little about them.
This is a pretty easy thing to work on, because the Duffer Brothers can build on what they’ve already established for Season 1. Hopefully, we’ll get to learn more about the returning characters and some of the new ones that are going to be introduced.
Building on the kid’s arc
The story arc of Dustin, Lucas, and Mike isn’t all that different from some characters like Elliot from E.T. and Roy Neary from Close Encounters. A strange occurrence impacts their lives, and they go off to save their friend. It’s a solid and durable narrative that’s been used many, many times.
We’re hoping that this new season will allow the show’s writers to go beyond the typical stories that we see. Stranger Things certainly has a level of self-awareness that surpasses the stories that it’s influenced by, and subverting these tropes will make for some really interesting narratives.
Stranger Things certainly has its creepy and horrifying elements. Upside Down and the Demogorgon are definitely creeptastic, but there were points where the horror didn’t go far enough to really scare some of us. We’ve seen some of the concept art that showed that it could have been much scarier.
We’d like to have some more grossness — some more weird creatures and stuff that will really scare us. We’re not necessarily looking for Game of Thrones-level body counts, but we do want to make sure that the show doesn’t feel safe. One of the things that really made films like E.T., Close Encounters, and The Thing so memorable is that the stakes felt incredibly high and that the characters were anything but safe.
Answers to some of our questions (but not all of them)
Any good serialized show will leave us wanting more, and we’ve already talked about some of the questions that the first season raised for us. What happened to Will? What is the Department of Energy trying to do? What happened to Eleven? Where had Hop gone after the hospital? What was Dr. Brenner up to in the Department of Energy? We’re fully expecting the show to address some of these questions. We’re also fully expecting the show to raise more questions as it continues.
We’re hoping that we’ll get to see more about the external factors that are part of the story, such as the nature of the Upside Down world and its monsters, and how the Department of Energy came to explore it. At the same time, we don’t want the show to spoon-feed all of this to us: make these questions integral parts of the story, and they’ll come out in a more satisfying way.
Closure for Barb
Finally, we’d like to see some better closure for Barb, who was summarily killed off midway through Season 1 and became the show’s unexpected star. We’ve definitively heard that Barb is dead, but that the Duffer Brothers are planning on making sure that there’s some sort of justice for the character.
This is great to see, because it sort of ties in with our desire for high stakes. Barb’s death was a big issue, and hopefully, it will spell out some of the greater consequences of the first season in lasting and meaningful ways.
What do you want to see in Season 2 of Stranger Things?