'Stranger Things' Is Too Long, Convoluted, And We Don't Care

You might not be shocked to learn Patrick loves Netflix’s Stranger Things. But could you have guessed Rob has also been hanging out in the Upside Down these past few years?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/n7zzjm/stranger-things-is-too-long-convoluted-and-we-dont-care
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I have one thought I feel compelled to share:

Vecna=Freddy Krueger/Michael Meyers/Darth Vader

He’s Freddy because he dives into their dreams to kill, he’s Michael Meyers because he’s a child killer returning to his home to continue his spree and his downfall at the end mirrors the end of Halloween almost exactly, and he’s Darth Vader because he’s the talented psychic who slathered his younger peers and is ultimately defeated by (probably his offspring) Eleven

So if I understand this correctly, Season 4 of Stranger Things is actually Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle of Flesh?

I didn’t like Season 2 at all, btw. And what bits of Season 4 I saw looked not great. My little brother recently stayed over my house for a week and was binging Stranger Things Season 1 on my Netflix, and that holds up quite well.

I absolutely hated this season. The two terrible side plots just sucked all the enjoyment out of it. It was particularly frustrating because the premise of a satanic panic in a town with a literal underworld is great. They could have spent way more time on that. You could have fit Will and Robin’s worries about being queer into the larger narrative of people being suspicious about “satanic” behavior.

I think Eleven got done the dirtiest. Her arc was just one big confusing cul-de-sac where she didn’t really grow or change at all. I don’t understand why she didn’t immediately murder Matthew Modine. I don’t understand what the whole confusing plot about competing branches of government was for. I don’t understand why she would repress those specific traumatic incidents when her entire childhood has been just wall-to-wall traumatic incidents. I don’t understand how reliving them brought he powers back. And I think it is a really wild choice in a season about the satanic panic to argue that recovered memory therapy works. It was just stupid.

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I think bringing up satanic panic and recovered memory nonsense together fits the Stranger Things mold to a T; recycling nostalgia as an aesthetic and not much else. The only interesting thing it might have to say about the era it’s playing in is that beyond the rose tint it really kind of sucked for a lot of people, but even that is hardly gone into any depth.

It was perfectly fine for me as brain candy I didn’t pay much attention to. The show has always been utter nonsense and that’s even if you swallow the supernatural stuff without question. It manages to make compelling imagery and cinematography, but not much else. Honestly, was there ever even a moment of doubt that Eddie was going to die? The real world is convinced he murdered two people and even if they killed Vecna and solved all of the upside down problems, that still leaves him as the prime suspect with no alibi or explanation. There was no convincing way to write him out of that situation other than him disappearing forever.

Listeing to the pod and imagining Eleven recreating this iconic star wars scene (sorry for reminding everyone this movie exists)

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I dipped back into Stranger Things recently after my recent rediscovery of Stephen King books and I wasn’t impressed. I think it’s totally fine that ST rips elements and character archetypes from Firestarter, The Talisman etc, but one thing King books are great at is highlighting how much things sucked and were just as cruel and unfair in the 50s as they are in the contemporary moment you’re reading it in. I won’t call it clear-eyed because King has been grinding an axe against greasers since Carrie, but there’s none of the outright fantasia for what the 80s could have been that Stranger Things drips with for any decade in any of his books (well, 11/22/63 notwithstanding).

What I’m saying is that you can tell The Duffer Brothers were raised comfortably, and so can look back on their childhood decades fondly. Despite everything he has said about growing up in the 50s, that clearly wasn’t true of King’s family circumstances.

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