After 15 months of anticipation, here’s just some of the first things we liked about Stranger Things 2.
1.80’s music, may it never die
The Stranger Things 2 soundtrack features even more and better 80’s music. There’s pop, rock, punk and synth – something for all tastes. Artists include everyone from Cyndi Lauper to The Clash, Duran Duran to Motely Crue and Ray Parker Jr creator of the Ghostbusters theme, to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.
There’s even a personal favorite and slightly more obscure track in the first episode called Just Another Day by Oingo Boingo. The group were famous for a number of hits in the 80’s including Weird Science and No One Lives Forever.
Tunefind has a complete list of the songs for each episode.
2. 80’s icon Winona Ryder
Casting 80’s pop icon for the show was an inspired choice and massive draw card for Stranger Things. Ryder’s transition from the young, trendy pop actress of the 80’s, to playing an offbeat “mom” role, is testimony to her extraordinary acting ability.
The intensity that Ryder gives her work is the reason we’re captivated watching her and why we empathize with Joyce’s journey. Ryder puts her heart and soul into her performance. While Joyce is neurotic, she doesn’t care what others think. Despite her anxious nature, she’s a committed mom, a lioness protecting her cubs regardless of the cost. She’ll sacrifice herself and she will make the tough calls when others can’t.
Fans might have assumed Joyce would end up forming a romance with police chief Hopper. But in a humorous unexpected turn she starts dating Bob from the local Radio Shack store. Bob is the anchor for Joyce. He’s the strong warm center that she can cling to whenever she feels like she’ll fly off. Super nice and cuddly, he’s inevitably doomed.
3. Carter Burke Cameo & 80’s movie references
Paul Reiser plays the role of dubious Hawkins lab scientist, Dr Owens. Fans of the Alien franchise will recognize Reiser as Carter Bourke, the fast talking, slimy and self-serving Weyland Yutani company man from the second Aliens movie.
Stranger Things season 2 has a strong and intentional Aliens vibe. The upside down creatures leave behind their shredded skin enabling their hideous rapid growth spurts much like HR Geiger’s Aliens. The Duffer brothers have said they deliberately chose Reiser as his former Aliens character would create an immediate sense of distrust with audiences.
4. In the 80’s its OK to be a softy
It’s nice to see a guy like Johnathon a softy, ultimately get the girl. Portrayed as a shy, insecure, intelligent and sensitive geek, he’s still secure enough to take a back seat when it comes to things he knows he can’t handle, like guns.
There’s a scene in Stranger Things 2. where most of the crew is stuck inside a house encircled by monsters from the upside down. Johnathon doesn’t take Hoppers offer for a gun. Instead Nancy jumps in and takes the weapon because we know from season 1. she’s the better shot. Hopper doesn’t hesitate in throwing over the weapon to Nancy. It’s a little bit of unquestioned girl power. Shit’s about to go down, there’s no time for sexist bullshit.
5. All that perfect 80’s hair
The secrets to Steve Harrington’s (Joe Keery’s), perfect 80’s do, are apparently products that no longer exist -“Faberge Organics” and “Farah Fawcett spray”. Stranger Things 2 is awash with the most epic mullets – even Dustin gets to sport a mullet for the prom.
New comer to the cast of Stranger Things 2 is another mullet-rocking, sporty jock slash metal head, Billy the bully (Dacre Montgomery). He’s the counter part to Steve Harrington, vying for the position of coolest kid at school. It’s mullet vs bouffant.
6. Elevens descent into 80’s punk darkness
Season 2 sees Eleven go through a maelstrom of emotions. Hopper has her in hiding to protect her but it feels more like prison to her. Setting out on her own, she finds both her mother and her “sister” number 8.
Eleven finally acquires some sense of identity as Jane (her real name). She joins 8 and her punk gang and in sisterhood they launch revengeful adventures from a secret neon lit warehouse hideaway. This is Jane’s foray into teenage rebellion. Its all very short lived however as she breaks from the group because she can’t go through with her first revenge crime.
Its a shame with all the set up that Elevens journey into the human shadows is given up at the first challenge. Its the moral right choice and also a structural choice as the story line isolates her from her Hawkins family and she has to get back in time to Hawkins for the grand finale. At least with her brief time in the punk gang, we get to see some true 80’s punk mohawks, more epic mullets and more 80’s fashion and to hear more 80’s music…
7. In a world of Kardashians’ be a Barb
Barb became an unintentional icon of Season 1. Audiences formed a strong affinity with her and thank god for characters like her. Barb, the true queen of Stranger Things and loyal square best friend to Nancy, the always sensible kill joy of parties that tolerates your shit. She was one of the first to get taken down into the hellish upside down.
Barb became an instant cult hero because she’s the best friend we all needed. She’s so uncool she’s cool. It makes her fate in Stranger Things 2 all the more unjust and tragic but at least she went out as a good person, honorable and honest. The Duffer brothers have said that Barb is dead and the glimpse we get pretty much confirms that. However that doesn’t mean we can’t retain a sliver of hope. Perhaps there’s still some slim chance we’ll see her again in season 3.
What did you like or dislike about Stranger Things 2? Add your comments below.