Why ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Will Be the Worst One yet If History Repeats Itself

With Orange Is the New Black coming to a close, Stranger Things is bound to become Netflix’s most prized original. Boasting millions of viewers and maintaining an unrivaled social media presence, Stranger Things has taken the world by storm, attracting diverse demographics to its nostalgia-infused sci-fi splendor.

Stranger Things cast
‘Stranger Things’ Cast | Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Netflix

With kids on bicycles saving the day and extra-terrestrial forces looming over the entire narrative, the 80s-themed series is equal parts heart, suspense, and fright. However, despite its withstanding and evergrowing relevance, the show is not what it used to be. 

If Stranger Things continues on the trajectory it’s currently on, season four is destined to be the worst season yet. For, with each passing season, Stranger Things falls victim to less favorable critical and audience reception. 

The ‘Stranger Things’ decline: Why things aren’t looking too good for season 4

The first season of Stranger Things was an utter triumph on all fronts. The series opened to a 97% critic rating and a 96% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The season, deemed an addictive sci-fi run with intricate characterizations, explored teen love while also tackling the creature terrorizing the town. The show adequately balanced multiple themes and managed to weave a cohesive and suspenseful storyline. After season one, the show began its gradual decline.

The second season of Stranger Things, still beyond impressive, received a 94% critic rating and a 90% audience ratings, dropping by 3% and 4% respectively. Though this may seem small, the drawbacks listed were rather consistent. While strong, the series fell short of its predecessor in terms of narrative strength, as the second season necessitated a “tighter focus,” according to The Wrap.

Many critics and everyday viewers alike agreed that the second season was less intricately developed, and seemed to jump spasmodically, including bits that were not integral to the story (and felt forced for technical run-time needs). 

As for the third season of Stranger Things, the show fell into the B range, receiving an 86% audience rating and a 90% critic rating (a 6% audience drop and a 4% drop in the critic score). Many deemed season three a bit too imitational of 80s sci-fi shows, and feel that it grew mimetic and uninspired, as opposed to emulative. Too much focus on satisfying the 80s sci-fi lovers led to a lack of originality. Furthermore, the idea of “disconnect” between episodes (slightly apparent in season two’s lack of “focus”) resurfaces in Slate’s review of season three.

Though these changes may seem slight, the changes are consistently in the same direction — downward. Since season one, Stranger Things has seen a 10% drop according to audiences, and a 7% drop according to critics. 

If Stranger Things continues to veer too far in the direction of reverence, it may forget to invent its own appeal and continue to lack originality (to a more consequential extent) moving forward. Furthermore, if the series fails to tighten its strings, and make a narrative that is less jumpy, fans may grow disinterested in one too many scenes or moments. In short, if history repeats itself, Stranger Things may find itself in B- or C+ territory come season four.