Stranger Things, which arrived on Netflix in 2016, succeeds for two reasons. Firstly, it evokes a very specific kind of nostalgia, for 1980s-era science fiction. Secondly, it creates a very clear sense of dread and foreboding, without resorting to blood and gore – well, not too much blood and gore, anyway. That wasn’t always the case, however, as co-creators Ross and Matt Duffer explained to Vulture recently.
“The Eleven character, the kind of powers she has and to have a young protagonist that’s violent — it’s not E.T. It’s not a happy situation. She’s killing people, and brutally murdering them. The original pilot was much more violent. It was originally like an R-rated thing. Winona’s character was like, ‘Eff this, eff that!’ It felt a little bit unnecessary. I don’t feel like we sacrificed anything by toning it down a little bit.”
If anything, tightening up this tonal aspect of the show only added to its atmosphere, and set the audience even more on edge. The physical violence remained, but was communicated through subtle hints during most of the episodes, building to more brutal attacks in the season finale. Likewise, the seemingly restrained responses of the main characters created a sense of tangible frustration that was reflected in the plot regarding the disappearance of two young people.
Ross Duffer went on to point out that there are a number of unresolved issues that will serve to propel Stranger Things into its second season.
“This gateway to another dimension is still open, so that’s not a good thing. Will was in another dimension for a while, so he may not be quite up to par. Those are the two things that are gonna kick-start us moving forward.”
From the comments of the Duffer Brothers, it sounds as though season 2 of Stranger Things will be paying close attention the idea of consequences, which could not be more timely in terms of global politics. Whether it will answer the question of what happened to the fan favourite character of Barb, when it finally arrives in July 2017, remains to be seen.