Stranger Things (Seasons 1-4)

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Stranger Things: Season 1 Poster

I haven’t subscribed to Netflix for a bit as I feel they are overpriced for the content they offer. However, while I was caught up on Stranger Things, my younger son, Ian, was keen to watch it with me. The first two seasons didn’t particularly concern me as he isn’t easily frightened, but each season gets a bit more dark (similar in that respect to the Harry Potter series) and with seasons 3 and 4, I feel they crank up the gore and scares (compared to previous seasons). I think they actually do a good job compared to modern horror films as much of the excess gore that makes it on to the screen only serves to detract from the story. Being a bit more family friendly isn’t a negative as they do keep it frightful, but balance making it accessible. Given all of this, we started watching in late December and I’ve been monitoring his desire to proceed. Surprisingly, he hasn’t had an issue with anything.

There will be NO attempt to avoid spoilers, but I won’t be going through many plot details…

While it hasn’t been that long since I completed season 4, it hasn’t been difficult to work through all the episodes. Before going too far, I definitely would say my favorite season was number 3. The introduction of some very Eighties plot points really works for me: the a mall that kills many of the other businesses in the town and the use of the Russians as the earthly villains. These both leave this season feeling the most nostalgic to me (I guess that would be what I felt). Season 3 also introduces and strengthens some favorite characters. The great newcomers were Eddie Munson played by Joseph Quinn, Robin Buckley played by Maya Hawke and Max Mayfield played by Sadie Sink. As far as most growth, I kind of feel like Steve Harrington played by Joe Keery has shown a lot of growth as a character and has become one of my favorites on the show. Interestingly to me, Ian also feels that season 3 is best. I wasn’t expecting that given he holds none of the same nostalgia that I do.

I continue to enjoy the writing and world building that they’ve done through this series. Not everything immediately connects, but it usually is weaved together overtime. For example, season 4 brought multiple threads together dating back to the first season. The introduction of Vecna in season 4 was an excellent choice as it offered a once human opponent for the gang to focus on in addition to the creatures. Also, it continues to be a great convention to name their evil opponents after characters/creatures from Dungeons & Dragons. It just feels right to me at this point. Vecna/Henry Creel/001 is played as an adult by Jamie Campbell Bower to great effect. I didn’t really enjoy the telling of his past crimes as a child as to me that strayed too close to a story of real life evil acts that I tend to dislike. I tend to like horror that holds no chance of actually happening, while I avoid more of the things that remind me how awful humans can be to each other in reality. I checked in with Ian repeatedly during these story bits to make sure all of this wasn’t bothering him, but luckily he understands it is fiction and took it in stride.

It doesn’t appear that season 5 will start pricipal photography until mid-way through 2023, so who knows how long it will take to be able to see the finale. I think Ian and I will definitely be watching the final season together. That will be interesting as I won’t be able to speedrun the season as I will have to conform to his availble time. I also won’t be able to prep him in advance for anything that might be cause for concern. Still, I’m glad that he has enjoyed the show and wants to keep going.