Stranger Things Season 3: 80s summer nostalgia and serious Mind Flaying

When Stranger Things made its first appearance on Netflix in the year 2016, it felt fresh and revived the 80s through a rose-coloured lens. When Stranger Things season 3 arrived in 2019, the nostalgia of the 80s was alive but unfortunately, it was like a decaying flower. The first two seasons had effectively narrated the tale of the quite town of Hawkins and the sinister laboratory opening the gates to Demodogs and the Mind Flayer and we had hoped that Season 3 would go in an interesting but new direction. However, season 3 has more of the incessant retro-fetishism brightened by neon lights and the Mind-Flayer becoming more powerful and ‘smart’, much like the villains who stay longer in Terminator or Star Wars. 

Our favourite characters are now teenagers, merrily in love except for Mind-Flayer’s old friend Will, who still wants him and the boys playing D&D. The childhood friends have split up, while Max teaches Eleven the joy of shopping and ‘how boyfriends lie’, Dustin is now Steve’s best friend along with his co-worker Robin. Hawkins’s star-studded Starcourt Mall makes an entrance, along with the warm summer of 1985 which is a splash of colours compared to the greys and shadows of the previous two seasons. Side note, Season 3 is graphically scarier-rats bursting themselves up to (please?) the mind flayer, and the big bad villain Billy becoming a potential parasitic mind amidst others. The show runs in speedier sub-plots and the Duffer Brothers have confidently introduced the big, bad Russians trying to reopen the Upside down. As every superhero movie, everyone comes together at the end to keep Hawkins in one piece. 

What sets Season 3 aside from the previous seasons is how subtly it addresses adolescence, misogyny and most importantly, fun in spite of everything falling apart. It will be interesting to see how the Duffer brothers weave season 4, considering how season 3 ends with potential cliff-hangers in the post credits scene. Season 3 posted record viewership figures, with over 40 million viewers worldwide.

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