07 November 2017

Stranger Things, Season 2


Stranger Things, Season 2: There's such a huge drop-off from Season 1 to Season 2, I now wonder if Season 1 was actually any good?  Maybe if I went back and watched Season 1 again, I wouldn't overlook the things that bothered me about it (Winona Ryder's screeching acting, the mostly ugly cast, including the repulsively anorexic chick who played Nancy, the deliberately overly abstruse story meant to hide the fact even the writers didn't know what the Hell any of it meant)?  Was Season 1 really a decent spooky paranoid cosmic mystery unraveled by a mostly-amusing gang of nerdy D&D kids and loser adults?

The main problem with Season 2?  There is no mystery for the nerdy kids/loser adults/ugly cast to figure out, it's the Upside Down Redux, and since we already know, more-or-less, all we're ever gonna know about the Upside Down, the writers have nine hours to fill before Eleven concentrates real hard for the two nostril nose bleed required to close the dimensional gate between the UD and Hawkins, Indiana.  

And that's a long nine hours, believe me. . .

With no mystery to tease, the writers try to fill the episodes with humor (the negro nerdy boy Lucas now has a wise-cracking little sister, think Wanda Sykes as an 8-year-old), new characters (a Jewy-iooking gOOfball conspiracy theorist, a Jewy-looking new Hawkins Lab doctor, played by a bloated-almost-beyond-recognition [if, like me, you haven't seen him since Aliens] Paul Reiser, a fat schlub boyfriend for Winona Ryder and Billy and Max, two angry new-kids-on-the-block step siblings from an ├╝ber-dysfunctional family {in fact, the 'what's with this family?' question is the only real mystery of ST2}), a lame subplot (Eleven finds Eight, another Hawkins Lab experiment girl, and joins her laughably un-punk punk gang just long enough to learn about hair gel and eye shadow before realizing she's more Jack-and-Diane than Sid-and-Nancy), lame product placement (Three Musketeers and more of Season One's Eggos) and sex, lots of sex (though, thankfully, given the ugly cast, it's off-screen sex).  

And some of the sex is a little creepy.  In one uncomfortable scene, the Jewy-looking conspiracy theorist seems more Harvey Weinstein than Sherman Skolnick as he practically demands that anorexic Nancy and pasty-faced Jonathan fuck right in front of him.  And there's a troubling stink of pedophilia to the Hopper - Eleven relationship, as the unkempt cop baits Eleven with her cherished Eggos, then locks her away in a cabin in the woods to watch TV all day, before returning at night to play an unhealthy-looking game of house with her. 

Almost as disturbing is the interracial tween romance between negro Lucas and new-girl-on-the-block Max.  1984 redneck Indiana hardly seems a breeding ground for tween race mixing, so one must wonder why the writers decided to shove this mud couple in the audience's face?  In fact, one of the charms of Season 1, in our hyper-sexualized American culture, was how unsexualized the nerdy D&D kids were.  Now in Season 2, they all seem to have pussy fever (except the terminally faggy Will, who spends most of the season being raped in an Exorcist-like possession by the Upside Down's Dark Shadow. . .speaking of which, after 13 seasons of Supernatural's much-copied demon's black smoke jet-streaming in and out of the mouths of the possessed, can't horror shows and movies find a new way to depict possession?).  And Mike is so blue-balled over Eleven, he acts like a girl on the rag as he brattily wet dreams his way through the 7 or 8 episodes until they are reunited. 

The only tit-ill-ating scene that isn't off-putting is also one of the few comic interludes that actually works, when Mike's sexually frustrated mom has her sexy time (romance novel in candle-lit bubble bath) interrupted by new-boy-on-the-block Billy, a normally-roid-raging imitation Leif Garrett who manages to control his temper just long enough to honey-trap some info out of the dripping wet milf.

No mystery, unpleasant character development, ill-fitting subplots: unforunately, Stranger Things Season 2 is an Upside Down version of Season 1.

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