When it comes to “Stranger Things” Season 3, the Duffer Brothers are in a great place right now. “I love the early days of seasons, because you are filled with all of these possibilities,” Ross Duffer recently told IndieWire. “We are having a lot of fun just bouncing around cool ideas.”
The creators of Netflix’s blockbuster favorite spoke to IndieWire about the show’s future after holding a Master Class session at their alma mater Chapman University last Friday (they graduated in 2007). Below, they explain why they can’t reveal the ’80s references that we can look forward to next season and why they are excited about their young cast growing up.
If there is anything that characterizes the distinction between Season 1 and 2 of “Stranger Things,” it’s that the breadth of the world is explored more. However, the Duffer Brothers hinted that a third season will focus more on character development than on expanding the scope of the show, which we got plenty of in Season 2. “It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” said Matt Duffer. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”
Season 3 is still so early in its stages of development that it hasn’t even gotten an official greenlight. “It’s really just Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go,” said Ross Duffer.
Yet, they were able to say that the new season is going to be “something almost weirdly more intimate” and “a lot of fun.”
One of the pressing questions about the future of “Stranger Things” is how the Duffer brothers will adapt the show to how fast the young actors are growing up. We have seen glimpses of dawning maturity in the show, like the (initially unscripted) kiss between Max’s character (Sadie Sink) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and the Duffers “have made peace with the fact” that they can’t stop them from growing up.
“We are leaning into it,” Matt Duffer said. “I love the fact that they’re going through adolescence.”
The Duffers are seeing their cast’s growth as a really positive change for the show, because of all the potential character depth they can explore. Adolescence “is a very dramatic part of your life, and drama is good! So I think it’s good it forces the show to evolve,” said Matt Duffer. After all, everybody loves a good coming-of-age story.
One of the most successful aspects of “Stranger Things” is that it embraces its time period, incorporating references from 1980s film, popular culture, and the period zeitgeist in general. When asked about which ’80s references they have been saving up for future episodes, Ross Duffer said that “there’s plenty of ’80s films and whole filmmakers that we haven’t touched at this point.”
However, such films and filmmakers will remain a mystery for now, because revealing them might delve too much into spoiler territory. “I don’t want to say any movies in particular. I might give it away,” Ross Duffer added, hinting that such references could be critical to next season’s plot.
During the Chapman master class earlier in the day, the Duffer Brothers mentioned Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) as the movie which introduced them to filmmaking. Perhaps there could be some Tim Burton references in store, which would create a unique intertextual dialogue with the show given that Winona Ryder, who plays Joyce Byers on “Stranger Things,” also starred in Burton’s “Beetlejuice” in 1988 and “Edward Scissorhands” in 1990.
So far, some of the most prominent ’70s and ’80s references we’ve seen in the show include films by Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and George Lucas, as well as many Stephen King novels.
“We are still trying to figure out how to tell an eight or nine-hour story,” said Matt Duffer in regards to their writing process and the challenge of writing binge-watchable long-form narratives.
“Maybe we will get it just right when ‘Stranger Things’ is done,” teased Ross Duffer. “The final season.”
Yet, as mentioned earlier, it was the medium of film that created the Duffers’ love for storytelling, and thus, when they develop the show, they use a film approach by thinking about it as a really long movie. “We wanted to build a movie that was stretched out,” said Matt Duffer.
Related: ‘Stranger Things’: Bob’s Alternative Fate, Will the Killer, and More Secrets From the Show
They fell in love with movies because of the different ways in which directors approach filmmaking, but in this day and age, the boundaries between film and television have become significantly blurred. “The only thing that got me excited about doing TV is when I started to see some of that moving into the television space,” said Matt Duffer.
Even though they believe that what’s beautiful about movies is that it is a single-viewing experience, they also cherish the advantages of the television form. “What’s fun to me is that we can make movies but we are no longer restricted by this two-hour timeframe. It gives us this bigger canvas to paint on. It opens up all sorts of new storytelling possibilities,” Matt Duffer said.
“Stranger Things 2” is streaming now on Netflix.