TV

Stranger Things Season 3

The show's latest installment doesn't quite live up to the hype.

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Russian agents are working tirelessly to destroy the United States from within. Unbeknownst to the patriotic and conventionally Midwestern citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, an infiltration is already underway.

Despite contemporary echoes, the third season of Netflix's smash hit Stranger Things takes place in the summer of 1985, amid a fictional invasion by Soviet agents—as well as shapeshifters, interdimensional monsters, and mind controllers. Modern-day election interference looks tame by comparison.

When last we left young protagonists Mike, Will, Dustin, Lucas, Max, and "El" (short for Eleven, the number she was assigned by the government scientists who conducted experiments on her), they had successfully closed an underground portal to an alternate reality brimming with evil creatures. Now the group's issues are more characteristic of junior high: Mike and El are obnoxiously lovestruck. Dustin has a long-distance girlfriend (allegedly, at any rate). Will, who spent the first season trapped in a dangerous parallel world and the second season as a host for the nefarious "Mind Flayer," can't seem to catch a break.

The third season takes its sweet time getting to the action, and as a result it doesn't quite live up to the hype. And the show leans a little too much on its own success. For instance, dweeby Dustin is deliberately and incessantly paired with recovering cool guy Steve Harrington—a comedic coupling that was well-received in season two but now feels like overkill.

Showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer are determined to maximize the Reagan-era nostalgia. Their most inspired choice is to situate the climactic showdown at a massive shopping mall (remember those?). A few characters even take in a movie—Back to the Future, of course—while hiding from Soviet thugs. As for the Cold War references, well, everything old is new again.

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  1. What is going on here? This season has been out so long that even I’ve already seen it. And it was fine, by the way. Soave wasn’t even alive in the 80’s so he couldn’t possibly know what the country went through.

    1. awesome times. i love right now all the time but i really loved the 80s

  2. Personally I think we need more entertainment portraying Russians as the villains.

    #LibertariansForGettingToughWithRussia

    PS — The Handmaid’s Tale is still a better show.

  3. This season came out so long ago, wtf is this?

    Also, this season was absolute garbage. Except for the ending, the ending made me tear up, not gonna lie.

    1. Also, this season was absolute garbage.

      This comment didn’t age well.

      1. Third season definitely is worse than the first, but not as bad as the second. I liked it, but I hoped for better.

  4. The interesting thing about Stranger Things season 3 is that it’s one of the few widely popular media offerings in recent years to put stage right ideas (and people) in a positive light.

    I’d point out that there are *Spoiler Alerts* ahead, but it’s been out for months already.

    1) The Russians really are conspiring against us–and right under our noses.

    2) When an American takes a dissident Russian to a carnival, the Russian wants to play the games for prizes. The American explains that the carnivals and their games are the most American things about American capitalist culture–the games are presented as if you can win, but the capitalist game is actually rigged against you. You can’t win.

    The Russian goes and plays the games, comes back with a giant stuffed animal and with a giant smile on his face declares, “The games aren’t rigged”.

    3) From the first episode, one of the heroic kids claims that he has a new girlfriend that he met at science camp. He says she’s smart as all get out, she’s beautiful, she’s funny, she sings beautifully, but every time he tries to call her on shortwave (in front of his buddies), she’s never around to take the call. Obviously, he’s making it up. There’s no way this girl exists.

    In the end, she turns up–and saves the world with her scientific knowledge, and not only is she beautiful, funny, and smart as all get out–she’s also a devout Mormon. And not only is she a perfectly happy, conservatively dressed Mormon with a great deal of scientific knowledge, she’s also assertive and demanding.

    This character cannot exist in the progressive mind. Her existence is heretical in the progressive mind.

    1. Not to mention:

      – These kids spend almost the entire series riding their bikes around and fighting demons without any parental supervision AT ALL, almost as if it’s bullshit that kids are constantly unsafe everywhere they go.

      – The teenagers all have jobs. Not one college grad works in that ice cream shop.

      – The “main stream media” guys at the newspaper office are misogynistic pricks who sideline the girl reporter, and bury a good story because it doesn’t match their agenda.

      – The communist doesn’t WANT to be a communist.

      – The crazy conspiracy guy turns out to be not all that crazy, and maybe is on to something.

      – The government, personified by the mayor, gives zero fucks about the people and will sell them to the highest bidder, including a foreign nation, to line its own pockets.

      1. Also:

        – A multiracial group of friends, both male and female, exists in perfect harmony without agonizing over ancient racial wrongs, hierarchies of oppression, or the capabilities of women.

        – One of the strongest characters in the season – Joyce Byers – is an assertive modern woman who takes no guff from the bumbling men in her life (Hopper, the government researcher/doctor) but also does not resent them or blame sexism for all her troubles.

        – Mike’s mother, briefly tempted to have a fling with a young lifeguard, ultimately denies herself sexual “liberation” because her commitment to her family means too much to her.

        – True self-sacrifice (Bob, Billy) is a central theme of the season in contrast to the selfishness, entitlement, and platitudinous fake empathy for others that are promoted by today’s political and cultural left.

        1. Okay fuck you guys, now I like season 3. Fuck.

        2. – A multiracial group of friends, both male and female, exists in perfect harmony without agonizing over ancient racial wrongs, hierarchies of oppression, or the capabilities of women.

          Max appears to be an excellent candidate to develop into a 90s-era feminist scold. You know the type–the ones who dressed in baggy clothes with subdued colors, wore cat-eye glasses, went on and on about how all men were rapists, and eventually became a lesbian.

          1. I hope the writers understand their audience and also understand that shoehorning leftist tensions into the show would kill the warm fluffy nostalgia that’s the main reason anyone watches it. That said, with leftist assjacks like David Harbour involved, it might be inevitable they will eventually start dipping into anachronistic ‘social justice’ themes. Who knows – maybe we’ll find out Max is really a boy.

            1. They certainly covered the gay angle with Robin (one of the more eye-rolling scenes of Season 3 was that reveal and Steve’s shoulder-shrugging reaction to it. His character has evolved a lot, but this is still mid-1980s Indiana.), although I have to admit I thought Will was the strongest candidate for that.

              The show overall is pretty apolitical–Erica reciting free market economic principles is rather amusing–but this is Netflix, and it’s impossible to keep that stuff out for very long. The next season will likely be in the late 1986-early 1987 range, and I suspect they’ll be bringing in either environmentalism or AIDS as the cultural backdrop. Too bad they killed off Dacre Montgomery’s character, he’d have likely been the avatar for the latter.

      2. – These kids spend almost the entire series riding their bikes around and fighting demons without any parental supervision AT ALL, almost as if it’s bullshit that kids are constantly unsafe everywhere they go.

        Millie Bobby Brown has mentioned in interviews that she’s quite jealous of the relative freedom of movement that kids in the 80s had.

      3. – The “main stream media” guys at the newspaper office are misogynistic pricks who sideline the girl reporter, and bury a good story because it doesn’t match their agenda.

        Actually, that one didn’t pass the sniff test for me. The kind of behavior shown was considered rude back in the 50s. I was a journalist and worked at newspapers in the 80s and you never saw that kind of sexism. There were LOTs of women in journalism in influential positions.

    2. >>>The Russians really are conspiring against us–and right under our noses.

      The Americans was a fun show start to finish.

  5. Actually the cool thing is that the villains aren’t Russians per se—they’re SOVIETS—ya know, actual commies? Oh man back in the 80s that was a HUGE no no for Hollywood. Just look at the James Bond films. In how many did the KGB itself (vs some renegade deviationist) turn out to be the villain? For Your Eyes Only is the only one I can think of.

    1. Octopussy might have had Soviet missiles on a train at a circus or something but it’s been 30 years since i’ve seen it & i didn’t google

      1. Rogue general though—the wonderful KGB chief (Gogol—SIGH) was on to him

        1. czech. surprised i remembered what i did lol.

  6. Gogol’s successor as KGB chief was Pushkin. Mind you this was a couple of decades ago. Haven’t seen the more recent ones. Is the new Russian spy chief by any chance Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? (I doubt it’s Lermontov or Turgenev—that would almost be less lame!)

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