Stranger Things Season 3: Unoriginality Outdone by Amazing Production Design And Character Interplay

Hopper and Joyce in Stranger Things Season 3
David Harbour & Winona Ryder in Stranger Things: Season 3

Netflix can’t stop boasting the monstrous viewership of its monumental original series. Stranger Things: Season 3 was binge-watched by nearly 9 Million viewers on its first day. It is truly a big accomplishment. Having been one of the 18 million viewers who have watched this season in its entirety, I can argue that this is by far the best season.

The charm and energy lost two years ago are present here by the truckload. There is a tremendous improvement over the largely dark and joyless season 2. It’s fast, extremely funny, and very tightly plotted, even though the story is a rehash of what we have seen previously.

There is a sheer lack of logic and inventiveness in how things proceed. To recapture the magic of the first season – the narrative follows the defined formula. Characters are staged to die in every episode – only to escape at the very last minute. Wicked things happen at the start, send shivers down your spine, then reappears for another show-stopping entrance at the end until it is time to move onto the next chapter.

Duffer Brothers’ have mastered the art of crafting binge-worthy content. They have superseded all of their previous work, understanding that it is not the monsters or the ending viewers crave for. The joy lies in the character interplay. It is why Harry Potter has been one of the most beloved franchises of all time. The love for characters gripped the viewer with the films. This season emphasizes character over plot.

Well-Rounded Characters Harmonized with Great Performances

The first two episodes are reminiscent of the previous season. They begin slowly but picks up pace later on. However, nothing major happens in these episodes. You only get hints of the approaching threat. But you enjoy watching every second of it only because you love the characters so much. The primary reason as to why the whole world is mad about the show gets justified as you watch the crazy blend of kids and adults. 

Whether it is Eleven & Max’s fun-filled friendship. Or Will’s heartbreaking realization. The writers understand these moments count the most. These moments are way above than the Upside Down threat. It’s like using Upside Down as the Voldemort of this series, only to provide a definitive end to the season and give rise to some unexpected deaths for a huge emotional blow.

The story comes to full acceleration only at the end of the fourth episode, in a bone-chilling confrontation between two of the most powerful characters. There is nothing particularly out-of-the-box about this confrontation. However, it is the powerhouse performances that raise the bar by a considerable margin. 

Not everyone gets enough screen time besides showing up now and then to validate their presence. Although whatever part everyone gets, is fabulously well-acted. Acting is, in fact, one of the biggest draws of the show. The first season entertained through its originality. This season amazes with natural performances. You believe everything that is said and done, no matter how moronic.

The add-ons (Lucas’s sister, Steve’s new side-kick, the Russian Scientist, the cheap Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dustin’s girlfriend, and more) are all delightful. They rule the second half of the season with plenty of funny moments that evoke big laughter.

Crowd-Pleasing Nostalgia Peppered with a Dash of Silliness

Robin Buckley, Steve Harrington, Dustin Henderson from Stranger Things Season 3
The Sassy Trinity: Maya Hawke, Joe Keery, and Gaten Matarazzo

The charm of Stranger Things lies in embracing its cheesiness, specifically of the ‘80s, by finding different ways of referring to that era. Whether it is the exuberantly lit Starcourt Mall. The riff on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. The special focus on classic films like Back to the Future or Day of the Dead. Or the choice of music. The entire season is jam-packed with utterly crowd-pleasing nostalgia.

But again, the strength of the show lies in its storytelling and the character interplay. And the excellent performances make the nostalgia beats secondary. If it was only about nostalgia, then chances are very slim the show would have received as much appreciation as it does now. Because the show works due to its well-developed characters. We have spent a good amount of time with them. And we want to see them more. As a result of which, nitpicking about the plot being the same as previous seasons becomes irrelevant. This show is all about our love for these characters and we simply adore seeing them doing their stuff. 

As a result of which, nitpicking about the plot being not different than previous seasons becomes irrelevant. This show is all about our love for these characters and we simply adore seeing them doing their stuff. 

In the end, Stranger Things: Season 3 is a tremendously entertaining show which underlines from its first episode that characters matter more than the story. It is the reason why the show is successful. And also why you will come back for another season, regardless of what they have done at the very end (do not miss the post-credits scene).

Rating: 8/10

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