Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the group are back with the sound of fireworks and the smell of burgers sizzling on the barbecue. While the USA was preparing for the celebration, the town of Hawkins, Indiana was, once again, attacked by strange, paranormal forces and some human authorities when Stranger Things dropped on July 4th and beat the record on Netflix. The streaming service reported that over 40.7 million accounts binge-watched the cult show in just four days.
Stranger Things 3 is a tale about growing up and also apart — a story of friendship, abuse of law and the profound outbreak of the mall era in mid-80s 80s. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), the character that held the focus in season one and partially season two, tries to deal with the fact that his friends – Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) are beginning their first romantic relationships. As Will hurts because nobody wants to play Dungeons & Dragons anymore, the adults try to solve the mystery of the falling magnets. Yes, that sentence is correct. Nobody thought you could create a suspenseful and emotionally charged plot involving fridge magnets but surprise! Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and Jim Hopper (David Harbour) go on a trip full of mysteries while their children try to fight whatever is left in Hawkins from the Upside Down. Meanwhile, Steve (Joe Keery), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) attempt to navigate the ‘grown-up world.’ Which isn’t easy in the world of Demogorgons and other gooey monsters who are possessing the residents of the small town.
Joe Keery’s depiction of fan-favourite Steve Harrington experienced extraordinary character improvement this season. From an ignorant teenager and bully, he became a protector of kids, a warrior, and a true gentleman. Steve’s priorities changed remarkably; viewers can see it through his actions as well as his life goals. He still wishes to be recognisable, however, it is safely at the end of his priority list. Steve’s transformation also reflects on a better selection of his friends. While working in the ice cream parlour, ‘Scoops Ahoy!’, he becomes friends with Robin (Maya Hawke). Going through a mysterious adventure full of surprises and thrilling moments, Steve and Robin discover the true meaning of loyalty and friendship.
Viewers might notice that this season of Stranger Things is a little different than the previous two. It isn’t mainly focused on fighting paranormal creatures from the Upside Down but on growth and everything revolving around it. One of the most exciting things was Eleven finding a female companion in Max (Sadie Sink). We see her evolution; from the girl who was not able to speak, to a young woman that truly enjoys life as a teenager. Eleven needed Max’s friendship – Maxine showed her that not everything revolves around boys. She introduces Eleven to the essence of the 80s: colourful clothing, great music, the magic of shopping, and most importantly – the character of Wonder Woman!
The Duffer Brothers did such a marvellous job creating a relationship that so many young girls can relate and look up to. Eleven and Maxine’s plot may not be the usual tangent for Stranger Things, but it was an unmistakably great addition to the story. The Duffer Brothers focused on 1985’s peak in consumerism – The Starcourt mall, the outbreak of now-cherished cult movies or the topic of ‘New Coke’ promoted in the middle of the 80s. Even the outfits that Steve and Robin had to wear while working at Scoops Ahoy! had retro character. Eleven and Max go to the mall and explore all the stores (some of which will still be recognisable today). The show is not only heavy on consumerism, but also on the US political situation in the 1980s at the end of ‘the second Cold War’. Hence, the choice of Hawkins’ villains.
This season also welcomed some new fascinating characters. The previously mentioned Robin – a quirky, cheeky friend of Steve’s and employer of ‘Scoops Ahoy!’ brings a breath of fresh air to the series. The daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke made a grand entrance, and people cannot stop talking about her.
However, the steer of this season’s episodes belongs to Dacre Montgomery as Billy, who is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when the season begins. Billy continues to be the mean guy he is, but this time, audiences may see a hint of a changed man. He’s shifted from a supporting actor depicting a rather stereotypical character, moving on to become a key player.
The soundtrack also adds to the great depiction of summer 1985, delivering such hits as Hot Blooded, Get Up and Go and Heroes (which has been previously used in the show). The last one – a cover by Peter Gabriel used in the last few minutes of the season finale will leave you with stirred emotions and tears dried on your cheeks. Madonna’s music also plays a significant role with her songs Material Girl and Angel. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein once again composed the series’ original score to great sci-fi effect.
Stranger Things 3 is an extraordinary coming-of-age story that takes viewers back to the times of Sam Goody, the origin of the mall chains and the nostalgic time of the 80s. The newest season touches on many different subjects: growing up, the evolution of pop culture, and even sexism in the workplace. All of that while fighting creatures from out of this world. Grab yourself a Coke and a cone from ‘Scoops Ahoy!’ and prepare yourself for a wild ride.
by Zofia Wijaszka
Zofia lives in LA and is passionate about pop culture, television and Stevie Nicks. She graduated from the University of Wroclaw, Poland with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Social Communication with Creative Writing. Her work revolves around women in television and film. She previously has written for GirlTalkHQ, Reel Honey and Polish film portals. She loves the Scream movies, Carol and Big Little Lies. She wants Sarah Paulson to be her buddy and go for drinks with her. Her Twitter – @zoshugrochu
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