Stranger Things Season 2: Sequel or Anthology?

"Would Stranger Things be better suited to an anthology format?"

This article contains spoilers for the first season of Stranger Things. You can find our spoiler-free season one review by clicking here.

Some Netflix shows come and go without much attention at all, dropping trailers and then eventually the whole season before disappearing after a weekends binge while others capture the attention of the public and critics and word of it spreads like wildfire until it dominates both social media and it’s more conventional television rivals. Stranger Things is most definitely the latter. Like JJ Abrams’ Super 8 before it, Stranger Things managed to tap into that well of 80’s goodness and drew out a Spielbergian ‘kids-on-bikes’ classic mixed with hefty dollops of Stephen King and John Carpenter. The 8 episode first season not only relied on nostalgia and homage but also managed to bring all of its supernatural  and science fiction themes into a cohesive mythology of its own creation devised and executed perfectly by The Duffer Brothers who were responsible for Wayward Pines’ terrific first season. Telekinesis, monsters, alternate dimensions and a creepy government agency made for a great first season and the show begs for a second but how should it continue? While nothing is confirmed internet chatter is ablaze with talk of a sequel with the show going the ‘Harry Potter route’ of watching the actors age when the show returns every year but would Stranger Things be better suited to an anthology format?

An immediate argument for a second season to continue the same story would be that the first season left us with some big questions unanswered: What effects will the time he spent in The Upside Down have on Will? Are there more monsters?; the egg that Chief Hopper found surely hints to that. Is Dr Brenner dead? What’s going on with Eleven after her monster defeating use of her powers? Why is Hopper leaving food out for her and what does he entering the car with the sneaky government looking types mean? What about the other numbered test subjects (there must be at least another ten)? Will Dustin’s teeth ever grow? Like I said some pretty big questions. But do we need a sequel season to answer them? With the anthology format we could link into the first season in some ways and answer some of these questions; maybe each season features a different one of the numbered telekinetic test subjects and we learn more about their powers and The Upside Down each time we meet a new one. Or next season we see some other experiment that the ‘Department of Energy’ is running in another part of the US that may or may not tie into Dr Brenner’s work. The first season laid the groundwork for a dense and wide reaching mythology and future seasons could expand this much further with the anthology format.

There’s also the argument – and this one’s much harder to make – that we don’t need these questions answered. I’m a lover of ambiguity; I relish in the fact that I don’t need every little question answered  and can create my own theories about the significance of certain imagery and the future of characters. I love that we’re never going to find out what caused the sudden departure in The Leftovers and I like the ending of Lost. The mystery is often so much better than the answer so let’s just not have the answers, instead we can theorise and debate about the answers to the questions I posed earlier. And if we’re not worried about getting answers then the anthology format can be pushed even further, it doesn’t have to tie into the first season and can simply be another strange tale of sci-fi suspense and supernatural terror. The first season was inspired by the works of Stephen King, Stephen Spielberg and many more and  another season could also be inspired by them, capturing that same tone and yet telling a new tale also inspired by their works. They could keep it similar to the first season by focusing on a small town and those who live there including the kids and cops or they can go completely in another direction with a plot and location like John Carpenter’s The Thing or Alien (two films referenced several times throughout the first season) giving each season a unique flavour while keeping that 80’s feel (and synth music of course).

Or they could, and most probably will, do a sequel. Netflix won’t want to alienate the huge number of fans of the first season who may not like a big change or The Duffer Brothers may have some great ideas for a sequel and if they do then they should go for it, they know what they’re doing. And I’m more than happy with a sequel, I loved season 1 and see no reason these characters can’t continue their adventures. The writers and actors somehow managed to make a group of loud kids the lead characters and they didn’t annoy me – which often is a problem for me, I’m always hoping the Raptors will eat those kids in Jurassic Park – and the fact that Finn Wolfhard who plays Mike is going to be portraying Richie in the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s IT (a MAJOR influence on the show) has me very excited for that movie. However Stranger Things continues let’s just be glad that it is continuing; bring on season 2!

What do you want to see from the second season of Stranger Things? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about Stranger Things on Twitter @kylebrrtt.

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