Now that Stranger Things 3 has been out for almost a week, it’s time to evaluate the latest season of the hit Netflix series. There are many who feel that it’s gone downhill, but others (including this writer) think the show has never been better. Here’s why Season 3 of Stranger Things is the best to date.
Let’s talk about feminism
Stranger Things is a show created by two men (the Duffer Brothers) as an homage to their favorite films from a time when, let’s face it, many movies well into the same tired, sexist tropes. The first two seasons did a good job of changing that up, making the most powerful character a girl and giving agency to Joyce, Nancy, El, Max, and others.
But this season made a real point to subvert the norm, and in several great ways. The focus on the friendship between El and Max, Nancy’s very real struggle to be taken seriously at work, and the deepening complexity of Karen Wheeler all portrayed women as real people with real issues, amidst all of the usual Hawkins chaos.
This new character is a fan-favorite
Speaking of strong women in Stranger Things, a new one took the center stage this season. Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve’s co-worker at Scoops Ahoy, starts off as a fun, sarcastic character who takes him down a peg. But once she reveals her intelligence and dives into the Russian project, she catapulted herself to fan-favorite status.
The journey that they go on depicts Robin as an outsider who can really shine when given the chance. We never quite get exactly why she sees herself as such until she confesses to Steve, while drugged, that she’s a lesbian. This really rounds out her character, and we hope we get to explore this further in Season 4.
The teams are even better than in previous seasons
We’ve come to love the team-ups in Stranger Things as much as the story itself. There’s a real opportunity to pair up different characters to create intriguing dynamics, which we discovered in Season 2 with Dustin and Steve.
Season 3 took this to another level. There are the boys (Will, Mike, and Lucas) and the girls (Max and El) who come together organically. They’re soon joined by Nancy and Jonathan, of course. But it’s the other two groups that are the most fun. Nothing beats the mismatched group of Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica. And when Hopper and Joyce link up with Murray and Alexei, it’s surprisingly entertaining to watch.
The stakes are higher than ever
Any horror or mystery show has to be able to ramp up the stakes as time goes on. In Season 3, as everyone works on different pieces of the puzzle (unbeknownst to them), only the audience can see just how bad things really are.
There is every kind of obstacle here. There’s a big monster, a group of possessed helpers, Russian operatives everywhere you look — even the mayor is attempting to keep them from the truth. The season manages to keep up the pace while slowly revealing information, all heading into the perfect climax. Season 1 had this, but Season 2 went away from the formula a bit.
What’s going to happen in Stranger Things 4?
So what’s next for the families of Hawkins, Indiana? We have a feeling a good bit of time will pass before we revisit them (both in real life and in their time). El and the Byers family have left the town, and while they can always return to help out, we may see Dustin’s radio technology get some more use. Whatever is in store, we’re excited to find out.