DISCLAIMER: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH SEASONS OF STRANGER THINGS
Stranger Things. The show that most of everybody watches and apparently will not stop recommending to everybody else. In their defense, it has evolved into an excellent show. However, it didn’t start out like that.
Season one of Stranger Things heavily relies on nostalgia. Movies like E.T., The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and Aliens came to mind. But, it doesn’t hurt that the story is solid and the actors are fantastic. However, the second season depends less on recreating the feeling of watching those old movies and truly establishes itself as a show worth watching for what it is, not what elements of nostalgia it may possess.
Apart from the notorious episode seven, which played like a mediocre backdoor pilot, all of this season is good, as opposed to the first season, which started out a bit slow then picked up a few episodes in. The first season was essentially an amalgamation of three genres, as established by the three storylines: the kids were part of the sci-fi, coming of age archetype, the teenagers were part of the high school horror and drama storyline, and the adults were trying to uncover a hidden government conspiracy.
Season two, however, excels at this genre-blending, more so than the first season, as it mixes the characters from these storylines, and, often, the storylines themselves. Steve and Dustin (who have great chemistry) are joined by Max and Lucas, resulting in a storyline that blends horror, sci-fi, and humor. Nancy and Jonathan switch places with Hopper and Joyce (along with Mike and Will); the latter group actually follows a storyline inclined towards horror/mystery, while the former attempt to expose the government’s misdeeds (and, to do so, enlist the help of an eccentric conspiracy theorist). This mixing and matching definitely works to the storylines’ advantage, and makes the characters, and the show, indulge less in conformity to cliches that are associated with certain genres.
In conclusion, this season of Stranger Things has really come into its own as a show. The plot is as interesting as the first one, maybe even more so; the acting is phenomenal, as usual, and the show has come to depend on itself more than other factors, whether it be nostalgia or genre cliches. It is more polished, and has gone from a show that was decent but wasn’t really worth rewatching to something that is a definite classic.