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Stranger Things, Season 2

(Netflix)

 

It's Halloween in Hawkins, and Police Chief Hopper is investigating fields of suspiciously rotting pumpkins while a new student duo is shaking things up at school.

 

Starring: Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Series summary: While trying to find a boy who disappeared, a small town discovers a cover-up of secret science experiments, supernatural forces, and a girl with unusual abilities.

 

Episode Title: Chapter One: Madmax

 

Viewer Appeal: Teens+

 

I've never been more excited for a season release. Ever. I've been counting down the days since February. I re-watched the first season of Stranger Things...four times. I've even spent the last week watching Season 1 highlights and the Season 2 Trailer on repeat. (You know, just to get jazzed up.)

 

So with all my self-created hype, how did the first episode of Season 2 live up to my expectations? Honestly, it's a challenge for me to answer objectively. I just so desperately wanted to be transported back to Hawkins, Indiana in 1984 that it could have been a snooze-fest of an episode and I would have loved it. But, and I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible when I say this, It. Was. Awesome.

 

Season 2 opens in the city of Pittsburgh with a 20-something-year-old who can control minds and the number "008" tattooed on her wrist. Left hanging, we're taken back to Hawkins, Indiana and find the gang, Will, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, in the arcade. It turns out that Will is having visions of being trapped in the Upside Down with a new "Shadow Monster." But these episodes aren't the only trouble on the horizon: Max, a new girl at school, is on the receiving end of Lucas' and Dustin's attention and Mike's anger for trying to replace El.

 

My heart is overwhelmed with how much I loved the beginning of Season 2. I know it's lame, but it felt like I was seeing friends I've missed over the last year and a half. And it was so good to catch up. What I missed the most was the signature Duffer Brothers' suspense that's unique to Stranger Things. It's honestly rare to find something so thrilling, without the unnecessary use of gore, that it leaves you coming back for more. The perfectly crafted episodes have you in a state of "just one more" until you realize it's 3:37 in the morning and you've covered your couch in a layer of Cheetos dust.

 

Now I don't want to create the impression that everything was rainbows and butterflies. I do have a complaint to file. (Gasp!) In the first season, there was an over-arching sense of camaraderie. The good guys versus the bad guys. Friends caring for one another. Siblings overlooking their differences to show their love. This season, however, is a lot more divisive. And while the overflow of hormones is probably more realistic, the heaps of teen angst left me longing for "the good ol' days." 

 

Parents--this show has a handful of swearing, mostly by preteens. It has moments of intense suspense that can be kinda scary for kids. (Or husbands—mine insists on watching the show with the lights on.) So needless to say, I wouldn't recommend lettings kids under the age of 13 watch this show lest you want to deal with nightmares and pre-pubescent swearing.

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this TV show:

 

• Would you treat Will differently after the incidents last year? Why or why not?

• How would life look different if you knew about the Upside Down?

• Which character is most relatable? Why?

 

--LV

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