Stranger Things is a good show. It’s not great, it’s not revolutionary or game changing, but it’s good. Very good at times. After becoming the surprise breakout hit of last year, there was a lot riding on the second season. Would it live up to the hype? Would it just repeat the same story beats as last year? Would it match Season 1 in terms of quality? The answer to all of the questions turned out to be, “yeah, pretty much.” Like the first year, the second installment was filled with uniformly good performances, genuine suspense, some narrative missteps, a few shaky character choices, and a pretty dumb cliffhanger. And now begins the wait for Season 3, which will presumably debut sometime in 2018. Rather than break down Season 2 or vainly try to predict what will happen in Season 3, I hereby offer a series of things I would like see happen. Some don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually occurring, some are painfully obvious, and some are the wishes of a total idiot who wants nothing less than a spinoff series entirely focused on Steve that lasts for twelve seasons. I don’t ask for much.
Pair up Max and Eleven
It took a while for Max to grow on me and the fact that she eventually did says more about Sadie Sink’s performance than anything the Duffer brothers gave her to do. She arrived on the scene and I immediately thought, “oh please don’t just make her a character for the boys to fawn over” and yet that’s exactly what she was for pretty much the whole season. This was a surprise and disappointment mainly because season 1 managed to avoid making Eleven and Steve the stock characters of “dream girl” and “abusive one-note villain” by giving them both their own agenda, which was refreshing and, particularly in Steve’s case, unexpected. So, who do the Duffer brothers present us with in Season 2 to blast away all the goodwill they built up? Max and Billy, both of whom fall so firmly into their stock types they come off as rough (really rough) drafts of characters that should have been much more deeply fleshed out before making the leap from page to screen. That being said, Sadie Sink did what she could to elevate the role and pairing her off with Eleven might bring the character up a few more levels. One of the most entertaining aspects of this season was the pairing off of Steve and Dustin, so why not do this with Max and Eleven? I’m not saying they need to become best friends or even decent acquaintances but it would be fun to see the two main girls shake off the boys for a while and do their own thing. And if “their own thing” could involve Eleven giving Max the stink eye for a solid hour before agreeing to assist her in ripping Billy’s balls off, that would be great.
Give us a villain with a human face (not yours Billy)
Look, the demogorgons are cool looking at all but they’re not exactly the most compelling of antagonists. Ditto the giant smoke monster demon thing. And the show has already made the Alien to Aliens leap of, “well, there will be more of them this time and one of them will be bigger.” So, let’s get a villain with an actual agenda we can understand, with a real personality, and with, you know, a face. I have a pretty solid idea on how to do this. It’s already been established that Mr. Smoke Giant Demon Fella (I know they called him the Mind Flayer but I like my title better) can possess people. So why not have him possess someone besides Will? AND NOT BILLY! We’ll get to my wish for Billy in a minute. No, I think Mr. Giant Smoke Monster Guy should possess…drum roll please…
I know, I know, Mr. Clarke is a nice man and enthusiastic teacher who will happily give the kids whatever information they need no matter how dubious their request sounds. But this would work. Think about it. The dumb cliffhanger at the end of the season suggested that Mr. Cthulhu Jr. is pissed off and targeting our young heroes specifically. Let’s say Mr. Clarke is experimenting late one night, he stumbles into the upside down, gets possessed, and becomes an evil mentor to our young heroes. This will allow Mr. ‘I’m bigger than Lost’s smoke monster’ to become an actual character and not just a literal and figurative looming threat. We can get to understand his agenda and reasons for trying to kill everyone. Maybe they’re legit! And it would mean our young heroes would be confiding in the one person they should absolutely not be confiding in, allowing the villain to stay one step ahead while creating some psychological suspense that the show is lacking. Come on, this would work. You know it would.
Just do it. Get rid of him. I don’t care how. Start the season with Max saying, “Man, I can’t believe it’s been six months since my asshole step-brother was crushed to death by a boulder” and then never mention him again. I’d be fine with that. Or have Max and Eleven rip his balls off. Or have him fly back to his home planet. Whatever. Just get this one-note, boring, useless idiot off this goddamn show.
Do more standalone episodes
“Eleven’s very own episode” was not good. This is an indisputable fact. It came in at the wrong time in the season, Kali and her band of punks were insufferable, and the central message of “Eleven needed to leave in order to return” was just kinda…bleh. HOWEVER. It was a good idea to expand the universe a bit and to focus on a single character for an hour. Most Netflix shows take no advantage of the episodic nature of TV, resulting in seasons that feel more like a muddled soup than a full course meal (looking at you, every Marvel show). The lesson the Duffer Brothers should take away from the poor reception to that episode should not be “don’t do it” but “do it better.” Tighten up the writing, find an actual purpose for giving a character a standalone hour, and don’t place it right after a great cliff-hanger. And don’t worry, I got ideas. How about a full hour about the day to day operations of Hawkins Labs? How about an entire hour from Mike and Nancy’s oblivious mom’s perspective? How about a flashback episode to when Hopper and Joyce were in High School? How about an actual good episode about one of the other kids that were experimented on? And hey, if you go with my “make Mr. Clarke a bad guy” idea, how about an episode from his perspective as he messes with the kids? I got ideas Netflix. Hire me whenever you want.
Don’t make Hopper and Joyce a couple
I’m spitting into the wind on this one but man, do I not want these two to become an item. I like them as friends with a shared history, with their own traumas, who help each other out and care for each other. That’s all I need them to be! Why does there always have to be a “will they, won’t they” couple on EVERY SHOW? Besides, we’ve already got Mike and Eleven, Max and Lucas, and whatever the hell will be going on with Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan. We don’t need another couple to worry about. Leave them be.
Give Steve a spinoff series about his misadventures in babysitting
There are two things all Stranger Things fans know to be true: 1. That Eleven episode was bad. 2. Steve is the best. The absolute best. He could have been a one-note mullet but instead he became the unsung hero of the entire show. His interactions with Dustin were a series high point. Strike that, his absolute failure as a babysitter was THE series highpoint. It was more than enough to convince me that this man can handle his own show. Here’s the pitch:
After being spurned by Nancy and failing to understand her attraction to Jonathan the Stalker, Steve Harrington opens up his own babysitting service. The series follows him as he navigates the pitfalls of a dangerous job. For the children of Hawkins do nothing but get up to mischief. Only Steve can protect them as they pull pranks, battle otherworldly monsters, break into government labs, and commit arson on a nightly basis. Armed with his trusty bat, it’s up to Steve to help them save the world, give bad dating tips, and get them back into bed before their parents catch them and fire him.
It should be noted that I think this series should take place concurrently within the main arc of Stranger Things. As in, we’d see snippets of each show in the other one. So you could have Dustin, Mike, Will, Eleven, Lucas, and Max fighting the smoke monster and in the background we see Steve chasing Lucas’ sister down the street as she attempts to burn down the arcade. There’s infinite potential here. I got titles too!
Steve’s Misadventures in Babysitting
Alright, that’s more of a working title.
Steve Harrington: Babysitter Extraordinaire
No. Lame. Sorry.
The Babysitter’s Club: Origins
This presupposes that Steve becomes the father of the founding member of The Babysitter’s Club. I’m good with this but it may cause rights issues.
No. Sounds like a dirty musical.
Babysitting and Monster Hunting
No, that’s just a description of what will happen on the show.
I got it.