Since its initial release, Stranger Things has been a smash hit for Netflix; the show has been picking up awards and undoubtedly influencing pop culture. This sci-fi thriller follows a gang of kids as they navigate middle school, dating, friendship, and monsters from a parallel dimension. The first two seasons are similar in the way that they cover the story with a more focused lens, focusing on building the main characters and plot. However, the third season seeks to shift its lens onto issues of more magnitude, adding more dimension to the characters and the story.
Probably the most notable change was the deep dive into the 80s (bringing the big hair, neon makeup, fashion, and even Jazzercise with it). While the mere sight of perms and shoulder pads thrust older viewers back into their 80s childhood, season three’s setting allowed younger audiences to get an authentic introduction to the iconic decade. The previous seasons depicted trends and culture of the late 70s, but the trademark pop culture, movies, and fashion of the 80s definitely gave off a more powerful nostalgic feeling. The majority of the season takes place in, or under, the Star Court Mall, which is as full of people as it is tacky fashion and neon signs. Each character develops a distinctive style, which ties in the trademark styles of the 80s: bold prints, scrunchies, short shorts, high-waisted everything, and more structured outerwear. The transition into the 80s felt seamless and exciting, generating a natural progression for the plot and room for character growth.
Beyond all of the more glamorous aspects of the 80s, the creators include some more hard-hitting aspects of the time. Viewers see how the introduction of shopping malls caused major repercussions for small businesses nationwide. The political context of the time period was portrayed by meddling, myopic scientists who were apart of the Soviet army. All of the seemingly insignificant details placed into this season allowed audiences to gather a more realistic picture of the world around these lovable characters and the “real world” issues they face – when they aren’t fighting murderous shadow creatures that is.
To me, the most significant shift was that season 3 contained stronger, more empowering storylines for the female characters as well as introducing a few new faces. When she wasn’t chasing gruesome monsters, Nancy faced brutal sexism as an intern at the Hawkins Post; this situation is one that many women know all too well. Throughout the season she develops her own voice and steadfast confidence, which eventually leads her to the news story and experience of a lifetime. Max helped Eleven find power beyond her telekinesis by showing her how to be more than a girlfriend or a weapon. Although there was some initial tension between the two characters last season, it seems as if Max and Eleven left it all behind them for a strong friendship. The two girls help each other through breakups and literal battles, giving audiences some major girl power moments.
After season 2’s addition of Max Mayfield, creators introduced another strong female to the group this season: Robin. Robin quickly becomes Steve Harrington’s partner-in-crime as her language skills and epic code-breaking abilities lead to the formation of the Scoops Troop. Her witty, sarcastic banter and charming personality make her one addition to the season that stands out far beyond the rest. Her character helps Steve’s to grow, as they both navigate the tumultuous bends of life: Robin reveals her sexuality and Steve maneuvers life after high school. It’s a multidimensional friendship that viewers everywhere can’t wait to see develop over the seasons to come.
Season 3’s risky, yet ingenious changes paid off in substantial ways. By adding new characters and developing the original ones, this season left audiences wanting more. The misfit group of characters, in conjunction with exhilarating plots and brilliant artistic choices from the creative departments, somehow manage to make facing a monster made from melted humans feel nostalgic and exciting. This season seemed to resonate with viewers worldwide as it broke viewing records within 4 days of release, and no doubt will be nominated for awards this coming year. Season 4 can’t come soon enough, and viewers are desperately awaiting the next adventure their beloved characters will face.
Cover Photo: What’s On Netflix