“Stranger Things” was a slow-growing phenomenon. “Stranger Things 2” will be a three-day event. So whether you like the new episodes or not, “Things” has changed.
Like the blockbuster sequel to a surprise indie hit, budget isn’t the only difference since the world first discovered the little Netflix-show-that-could in 2016. Season 2 will be absorbed by our culture differently because it will be absorbed by individuals differently, and recognizing this fact before diving into “Stranger Things 2” is important for processing the nine new episodes.
Just think about one word: Barb. Before Season 1, Barb was just a shorter version of the formal “Barbara,” or perhaps a reference to a sharp retort. Now, Barb carries conflicting connotations for everyone who’s seen “Stranger Things”: There are Barb lovers, Barb haters, and those who never want to hear Barb’s name again because we can’t stop talking about Barb. The phenomenon that drove Season 1 has created a monster unto itself, and Season 2 is grabbling with that monster heading into its release this Friday, October 27.
What Makes “Stranger Things 2” Different Than Other Big Releases
As mentioned above, “Stranger Things 2” is different than a lot of previous follow-up seasons because of how Season 1 was seen. Part of that stems from how Netflix releases new episodes: all at once, in full season chunks. TV’s biggest weekly series give you more time to stay current. If you miss the new “Game of Thrones,” you can avoid Twitter for a few hours on Sunday night and catch up in 60 minutes. You don’t know how far behind you are on “Stranger Things 2” until someone spoils it for you. So the only safe route is watching it all as quickly as possible.
Fans didn’t have to do that in Season 1. Few other Netflix series — or any show that drops full seasons all at once — have been sleeper hits. “House of Cards” was a big deal right off the bat. The Marvel series were, too, while other shows didn’t reach the same level of mass appeal. When the original season of “Stranger Things” debuted, it was a low-key release. Few people were chomping at the bit to binge all eight hours on the first weekend, but a steady rise in interest turned the Duffer brothers’ original series into a legitimate hit.
In Season 2, the opposite assimilation will occur. The fervor over the sequel is so strong, Comic-Con’s Hall H was packed to the gills for a first look at the trailer. Spoilers have been so closely guarded, critics had to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) from Netflix to get early access to the screeners, which came with a list of specific spoilers to keep out of all posts. People are eager to get their eyes on the second season, and many will spend October 27-29 speeding through the new entries as fast as possible.
Spoilers and Non-Spoilers Can Affect Opinions
One could argue that fans need to. In the age of social media, sensitivities have grown with demand. People want to talk about what they’re watching as soon as they watch it, but Netflix’s full-season release means everyone is watching at slightly different times. Even if you start watching first thing Friday after work, you could still be spoiled by mega fans who stayed up all night.
Rabid interest also makes for high expectations, a time crunch, and intense scrutiny, none of which were a factor with the original series. Even if “Stranger Things” didn’t turn into the awards behemoth it did (snagging SAG, Golden Globe, and Emmy nominations), the general excitement over Season 1 means Season 2 has to reach a high qualitative bar.