In the Stranger Things trailer that debuted during the Super Bowl, there’s a shot of the sky over Hawkins, Indiana looking rather apocalyptic. That image is still devoid of context—it may even be a vision—but at last night’s Writers Guild Awards in New York, David Harbour told The A.V. Club a bit about how the series is ramping up the threat for the second season while still keeping the action centered. “I think we are playing with a broader palette, so in that way the stakes are higher,” he said. “But I still do think that we don’t want to create national outbreaks here and we want to contain it in some way. Part of the struggle is to figure out how to contain the situation, but the situation, as you can tell from that trailer, has gotten more intense.”
But these days Stranger Things has become about more than just Demogorgons and mom-jeans-wearing teens, even though Harbour did note that in the upcoming episodes, “we go into these great stories of what the Barb death meant for the town.” Harbour’s exuberant remarks at the SAG Awards put the show’s little-guy-fights-monsters ethos in a present-day context, and last week a Democratic congressman unleashed an extended comparison between the series and the U.S. under Donald Trump on the House floor: “Mr. Speaker, like the main characters in Stranger Things, we are now stuck in the Upside Down,” he said.
Harbour found that “amazing,” but also was eager to change the narrative around his speech. “In a weird way, I think people have made too much politically of my speech and not enough culturally of my speech,” he said, pointing out he never mentioned Trump by name. “What I’m talking about is the responsibility that we have artists to produce a culture of more empathy as opposed to more rage.” Harbour does, however, concur with the sentiment. “We are definitely living in the Upside Down,” he said.