Minor Spoilers Ahead
I have a confession to make: I used to love Stranger Things. Yes, I know it’s mainstream as hell and nothing extensively bright, but when that first season came out, I was head over heels for the show. Additionally, when I heard that the show was going to have a new story with new characters for each season (kind of like an anthology program) I was beyond excited. But then, season 2 came out, and it turned out that they were just going to continue the story off of season 1—which didn’t disappoint me at the time because I was glad to see the continuation of the story involving these likable characters. And, ultimately, I ended up enjoying season 2, but not nearly as much as season 1. At that point, the hype for the show kind of died down for me so I had no intention of watching season 3 immediately, hence why this review is coming out so late.
I think I might officially be done with Stranger Things—for good now. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I dug season 3 in the slightest. This show has officially lost complete steam to me. That’s not to say though that this season was bad, there are some admirable properties to this third telling of Hawkins, Indiana. The directing manages to still be very sharp, similar to the show’s previous seasons. The cinematography is clean and visually colorful at times. The actors/actresses all, for the most part, do fantastic jobs and give memorable performances. In general, the show’s first half does start off decently and does reach a solid climax in Chapter 4. A lot of adolescent themes brought into the mix that involves young love and distancing friendships were fruitful and investing. And, of course, the Steve and Dustin interchanges were enjoyable to watch.
In terms of my nitpicky technical issues with this season, I thought the editing felt rushed in a handful of the earlier episodes; lots of the cuts and techniques reminded me of Twisted Pictures’ Saw movies. This show, more importantly, has reached a level of goofiness in its storyline that feels like a desperate attempt to keep the show going. The plot reaches areas in this season that are dumbfoundedly ludicrous and childish. Example: I’d take spooky underground caves and monster dogs (which were in Season 2) over Russian bases that live secretly underneath a public mall. The explanations that come with every far-fetched asset of this season are juvenile and weak, unlike the previous seasons that amusingly explained certain sci-fi elements. And every main threat is always a giant Demogorgon-like beast, except, every season the threat gets bigger and bigger. Remember what they say: that doesn’t necessarily mean better!
The rhythm of the show’s story is also beginning to feel way too familiar. All these seasons end up being about some government that’s doing sketchy stuff in secret lairs that open a portal that releases a bunch of monsters. And as always, Will gets visions, Eleven has to save everybody on numerous occasions, and someone or a couple main characters at the end have to make a sacrifice. It’s so blatantly predictable at this point.
Losing the ability to believe, loses interest, loses surprises, and everything just becomes foreseeable. I’m, furthermore, really tired of people in this show being saved at the very last second; an occasion that happens multiple times in nearly EVERY episode! There’s a fine line between how much disbelief and convention you can insert into even a science-fiction property before it becomes tiresome and flat-out exhausting.
Some of the dialogue here is distasteful; its attempts at comedy also seem to have gotten much cringier. The pop-culture references are getting so worn-out and rowdy. We can only take so many 80s movie references, Duffer Brothers. The science-fiction, thriller elements seem to be continuously dying down as the forefront—which is a damn SHAME. Also, can somebody tell me why nearly every main character in season 3 has suddenly become a major asshole? Like, a lot of beloved characters are now attaining cocky-leveled areas of disbelief and illogicalness—especially Hopper who’s now just a bumbling buffoon in this season than an intelligent, resourceful cop. However, I can say that they tried to at least give Billy in like…two scenes…character development—which was admittedly cheesy character development but at least mildly compelling character development.
And please: don’t get me started on the finale to this season. It’s UNBEARABLY embarrassing.
A lot of people have been preaching that season 3 is a significant improvement over season 2 and, frankly, I don’t see it. The only improvement I can think of is that everybody starts off with new goals and intentions because they’re either all becoming teenagers or leaving high school—which could have been explored much more interestingly. But other than that, there’s nothing I can think of that this season does better than season 2 and especially season 1. The biggest issue with season 3 is that it comes off as another repeat of the first season with an even more rushed storyline than Season 2—a 9-episode runtime that at least developed its characters intensely (especially Eleven!). Season 3 is mildly entertaining and brain-numbing most of the time, but ultimately unnecessary and, MY GOLLY, forgettable.
I really liked Robin, though. Go Uma Thurman’s offspring!
Stranger Things Season 3 Math:
Chapter One = C+
Chapter Two = C+
Chapter Three = C+
Chapter Four = B-
Chapter Five = C+
Chapter Six = C+
Chapter Seven = C+
Chapter Eight = D+
Final Verdict: C+
I haven’t actually written about Stranger Things before, so in case you were wondering, here are my grades for the previous two seasons:
Season 1 = A-
Season 2 = B
Yeah, season 1 still rocks. Steve’s redemption shall never be forgotten. FORGET BARB THOUGH!
“Stranger Things” Season 3 is now available to stream on Netflix.