Stranger Things 3 is the show of the summer, an unqualified hit for Netflix. Most agree that this third season even superseded the second thanks to a scary new monster (the Mind Flayer) and even more comedic cast chemistry (Scoop Troop!) But YouTuber The Cosmonaut Variety Hour, although he stresses very strongly that he still likes the show, just posted an 18-minute video that argues that Stranger Things would have been more effective if it had stopped after season one.
He does this full well knowing that he’s about to get trounced by Stranger Things fans, calling the show a “wonderful anomaly that shouldn’t work the way it does,” as it combines parallel shadow dimensions, Dungeons & Dragons, a trip back to the ’80s, and a plethora of captivating characters. But, he points out that season one of Stranger Things is “perfect,” in terms of plot, suspense, performances.
But the big advantage that season one had over the following seasons, says the Cosmonaut Variety Hour, was a sense of mystery, and the “mystery is gone after season one.” Even when it looked like Will was dead, there was enough speculation to fascinate the viewer into still trying to figure out what the then-unseen danger actually was. But now we’ve seen the demogorgon, and in season two, a plethora of demogorgons. The show’s scares have gone from suspenseful to hard-to-watch melting bodies. Even the Body Snatchers theme didn’t go very far, as the other characters caught on the the demons’ soul-possession fairly quickly.
More problems piled on after the first season, says CVH, like more characters and storylines (although c’mon, Billy and Alexei were great additions). We agree that season three had a bunch of disparate storylines instead of one main cohesive one, and piling on more characters dilutes the strength of the already strong characters that were there: “Tell me one thing Mike does in season two, because I really don’t remember him being there.” While Will has a few wonderfully emotional scenes as he protests his friends moving on without him into adolescence, that thread is never really followed up on. And if even the non-superpowered kids are invincible, as these average midwestern kids apparently are, it kind of takes away the fear factor as they’re able to defeat whatever otherworldly menace crosses their path. Using fireworks, no less.
We definitely agree with CVH that Hopper went through a really unfortunate character transformation this season, and the product placement was painful. But when Cosmonaut Variety Hour starts complaining about Erica—well, that’s where he lost us. But we can kind of see his point when he imagines the prolonged impact of a Stranger Things that only existed for 12 episodes. As he puts it: “Sometimes it’s okay to let go of things we like.”