UNPOPULAR OPINION AHEAD. Well, it’s unpopular depending on whom you ask. Did you like my prim and proper usage of the word ‘whom?’ What on earth is up with the word prim? Remember in Hunger Games when Prim originally gets chosen to represent District 9? BTW District 9 is one of those movies that I loved but have never made the time to go back and watch. Idk man, there are just so many good movies out there it can be hard to make time to rewatch the ones you really liked. Plowing ahead here however, I was feeling a little drowsy earlier this afternoon because I didn’t get my lunchtime workout in (long story with a stupid explanation, essentially the system that allows access to the locker room was down and it was working for some people but not for others so I still could’ve worked out because my card was working for the actual gym just not for the locker room which was really stupid but I wouldn’t have been able to shower then I woulda showed back up to my office all sweaty and my office is the kind of place where it’s like better not to be sweaty. If I was in construction or an NHL all-star or something I think the sweat would be more understandable but working a 9-5 office job with air conditioning kind of makes it seem like either you have a big gastrointestinal problem or you’ve been watching District 9 at your desk and it’s the kind of movie that scares you although really it’s not that scary) so I am on my second cup of coffee for the day which is not normal for me. I guess what I’m trying to say here is if this comes off as a little jittery, you know why. Last thing–I have no regard for spoilers in this article so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want it to be spoiled, you should stop here. Let’s get to what I actually wanted to say though:
Stranger Things 3 was really awful.
Alright alright before you whip out your pitchforks lemme lay some ground rules down. The most important thing is that I’m not saying it was terrible in a vacuum. If this was the only season and we didn’t have 2 whole other seasons worth of knowledge to build upon, I’d actually say this was pretty good. That being said, I’m not calling Season 3 awful by comparative standards–I don’t think that’s a great way to judge a show. Without further ado, here are my gripes.
They totally botched David Harbour’s character – Oh, one thing you should know about me is that I definitely know the actor’s names better than the character’s names, so you’ll have to bear with me on that front. Yo so in the first two seasons, Hopper is this lovable dad bod police chief who is rough around the edges but still very much a likable protagonist. Like in Season 2 he was Millie Bobby Brown’s dad and dancing around and you could really get behind him. Season 3? Alcoholic, emotionally abusive, really irritating, and just a guy across the board you feel no reason to root for. Oh, remember when he and Joyce casually stroll into Cary Elwes’ office and Harbour is about to casually cut his finger off AFTER he beats the s**t out of him? I’m not really sure what the Duffer Brothers were going for here–The overall terrible-ness of this character is not subtle in any way so it was definitely on purpose. Were they trying to make Harbour a more complicated protagonist? If so, it missed the mark horrifically.
Sometimes Millie Bobby Brown (let’s go with MBB) has powers and sometimes they’re really powerful powers and sometimes they’re pretty weak powers and then other times she just doesn’t have any powers anymore – Honestly feels like I kinda nailed it right on the head with the headline there but allow me to expand. This criticism isn’t completely exclusive to Season 3, as I’ve had major gripes with it in the past as well. Any time you decide you’re going to give a character psychic powers, it’s REALLY tough to do it well because that can be anything from bending spoons to physically entering other people’s minds and using their body as a vessel. Lots of room in between those two, right? I have a similar criticism of Stephen King’s 2013 novel Doctor Sleep (which is still worth the read by the way especially in anticipation of the Ewan McGregor film coming out later this fall). So at certain points in Season 3, MBB is strong enough to beat the crap out of the demagorgons or mind fillets or whatever we’re going with this season, and then at other points she can’t hold a candle to the thing. Then right at the end we get the FUN twist where all of a sudden she just doesn’t have powers anymore. Because that thing bit her on the leg? Oh, and on that topic, I don’t remember who stomped on the little guy that crawled out of her leg, but isn’t the whole point of this season’s monster that it can make itself into different shapes (e.g., as thin as possible) and crawl through cracks under doors (like in the hospital scene)? So how does stomping it ‘kill’ it in any way? Sigh.
For god’s sake we HAVE to have more compelling villains moving forward – I get it: The mysterious Russians without much of a detailed vision or plan is a total homage to all the 80s Cold War stuff, but it kinda feels like we’re now 3 seasons into this sort of villainy and frankly, it’s gotten a little stale. Like, are the Russians trying to open up the Upside Down gate just for poops and giggles? Do they have a plan? Are they trying to weaponize the Upside Down? All these questions may have answers, but we really don’t have any answers, and it doesn’t come across as thrilling and mysterious, it just comes across as lazy. And then what’s with this Terminator ripoff? If he’s really that strong and muscular and invincible, there really isn’t any reason why he didn’t kill everyone he wanted to in the first couple episodes. You can’t make a guy bulletproof (literally) then have him end up losing a fist fight to the drunk dad bod at the end just for the story. That is unbelievable and not in the good way like “Oh my gosh your ability to shotgun that pizza is unbelievable” (actual words I heard from a then-girlfriend but then she dumped me the day after so who’s laughing now???)
I’m pretty sure the writers forgot about all of the familial relationships and dynamics they created in the first two seasons – If you just watched Stranger Things Season 3, I’m like 95% positive you would have absolutely no clue that the following people are related: [Wolfhard, Natalia, and hot pool mom] [Bowlcut, bowlcut jr, and Winona] [redhead and Dacre]. Honestly, do Wolfhard and Natalia even speak to each other in this season? Do we get anything between the two bowlcuts? I think there’s one hug at the very end between bullcut jr and Winona. Redhead doesn’t seem to be all that concerned that her gd brother is the bad guy until the end when she (SPOILER) watches him get eaten by the demigorgon. But on that note, what’s the deal with MBB like entering his mind and going to the past and all of a sudden that switches him from being a vessel for the mind fillet back to regular Dacre? Is it possible to weaponize this power? Whatever happened to that female lifeguard? One of the best parts about the creation of Stranger Things was the family dynamics and relationships. Those were about as close to irrelevant as you could get this season. It doesn’t make Season 3 worse in a vacuum, but we’ve invested a lot of time in these relationships and to see an entire season go by where we completely neglect them is just really disappointing.
Natalia and Bowlcut in Season 3 are the equivalent of Finn and Rose in Star Wars 8 – Seriously: They pretty much spend the entire season on a side quest that is neither interesting nor terribly important. It honestly feels like the writers had absolutely no idea what to do with these characters so they just forgot about em. Coming into this season, Jonathan was supposed to be someone we liked hesitantly but weren’t completely committed to as an individual but he really shined when with Winona and bowlcut jr. This season? Oh let’s completely remove him from those relationships and give him nothing to do. And as for Natalia? Borrrrinngggggg. Seriously, the ice cream scoop lesbian girl was way more compelling just out of the dialogue she’s given but we just met her and we’ve already sunk hours and hours into Natalia. I just kept waiting for Natalia and Bowlcut to get to do something actually interesting but instead we just watched them recreate the plot of Spotlight for 5 minutes every episode. Oh well.
Other random things I hated
The Coke scene.
I did the math and 84% of all words spoken in this season were curse words. I don’t care that much but it was ridiculous and distracting.
The Susie song – So many better ways to add some comic relief to that part. That was high level cringe stuff.
I didn’t actually love what they did with Dacre this season–I thought he was super compelling in Season 2 and this season it was just like “oh ok you’re the bad guy” but you’re not even Dacre, you’re the demagorgon impersonating a person. A little bit too much like Terry O’Quinn at the end of LOST for me.
I honestly felt like not that much actually happened this season–It was SO drawn out and the episodes started to feel CRAZY formulaic about halfway through. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I felt bored not because there wasn’t any action, but because the action didn’t feel like there was that much at stake.
So there you have it. To me, Season 3 was still enjoyable. I don’t normally watch an entire season of a show in less than 6-12 months, so doing it in 5 days was a pretty big accomplishment for me. What did you dislike about Stranger Things 3? Did you absolutely love it? How did it stack up to other seasons for you? Let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading–Catch ya later!