Stranger Things 3 is probably Netflix’s biggest buzzed about series ever, with reportedly 40 millions viewers in the first four days and tons of internet chatter. To give one an idea of comparison, Sunday Night Football averaged about 19 million, This is Us averaged 16.06 million, and Game of Thrones about 44 million per episode once you count the people who watched it on HBO Go the next week. By just about anyone’s reckoning that means Stranger Things is solidifying itself as bonafide TV phenom. I wouldn’t be surprised if the show creators end up being remembered in a similar light to the 80s storytellers they themselves grew up loving.
And this newest season just furthered the case that it ought to be the way. It handled the difficulties of friendships that drift as we age, the struggles of parenting an adolescent, and occasionally the paralyzing nature of grief with humor, heart, and the more than an ounce of creepiness. There’s so much going on, my main complaint is that it might have been better if the episodes had come out one at a time, so I could better process Hopper’s anger, El’s finding her power, and Nancy’s struggle to be taken seriously, as well as the five or so other sub plots and character developments going at the same time.
But on the other hand, it is the myriad of struggles that makes Stranger Things so watchable and relatable. Some of us have been the outcast, like Mike and the gang. Some of use have been the friend that drifts away, like Dustin. Some of us have had to have awkward conversations with our teenagers about dating and just gotten it all wrong, like Sheriff Hopper. Some of us have felt like there were glass ceilings we couldn't get past, like Nancy. Some of us have felt stuck with nowhere to go, like Steve. And some of us just really want a cherry slurpee. (okay, maybe I’m stretching there).
On the one hand, yes this is a show about creepy monsters that invade from another world, but really it’s about all those other things we can actually relate too. I can’t imagine there is a person in the country who couldn’t identify with at least one struggle that a character in the show has. Plus, it’s exciting, hilarious, and just the right amount of creepy in the process. Seems like great storytelling to me.
Strange Perspective is a unique weekly look into today's pop culture by Progress columnist Rachel Strange.