We don’t normally maintain a subscription to Netflix at our home. I was an early adopter of the web streaming service (back when they were shipping DVDs) because it was a better financial deal than cable and I could better manage the entertainment content coming into my house. The old saying goes that if you don’t agree or are offended by what’s on TV just turn the channel. We did. We went to Netflix.
Unfortunately, in recent years Netflix has become a self-appointed political engine with its incredibly tilted documentaries. Worse than that, its original programming is bizarrely sexualized for no good reason. Gratuitous sex scenes are poured into almost every Netflix original series we tried to watch. And if it was not a sex scene, it was a political statement that seemed completely out of place. The reboot of the Anne of Green Gables story, the Netflix version, has LGBT characters added in. Why not! Let’s politicize and sexualize everything.
So, we turned the channel again and turned off our Netflix.
But then Stranger Things Season 3 came out. Each season of Stranger Things has been a rare occasion for binge TV at our house, my youngest daughter leading the way. And why not. Season 1 was incredible. It was the closest thing to reaching that apex of a kids movie from my childhood, The Goonies, that I have ever seen. I didn’t like the amount of foul language used by the kids in Stranger Things but to be fair, that was the one strike against The Goonies too.
Season 2 was good, but not as strong as the first. I honestly paid less attention to it and slept through a lot of our binging over Halloween weekend a couple of years ago. Now with Season 3 being released on Independence Day last week, it was hard to resist the price of turning our Netflix back on and watching the latest installment. So, we did, and here are the overall, spoiler-free thoughts and review of Stranger Things Season 3 from a parent who is picky about what we let into our home.
Review of Stranger Things Season 3
Overall, Season 3 was really good. It still did not match the levels of the first season of Stranger Things but it was enjoyable. Highlights of the season were Suzie-Poo and Alexei. (Sorry, can’t say anymore there without spoiling.) When you get to those parts, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Apparently, there is an internet controversy suggesting the dramatic deaths in this season were Suzie-Poo’s fault. I’ll let you decide.
I was surprised by a couple of shifts in the storytelling that lowered the quality of season 3 compared to prior seasons.
First, there was a lot more sexualization of the kids in this season. It wasn’t over the top. (Billy and the wife part were over the top!) But it was obvious and blatant where it did show up. Eleven is taught how to take command of her sexual identity. Terrific! That’s what I watch Stranger Things for. I presume the makers were trying to capture the kids growing up and of course in Hollywood, once you reach age 10 there is a need to be sexualized. That’s what growing up means there.
The season was also a little more cartoonish than in the past, especially the role of the adults. My son noted how in prior seasons you really cared about the kids and Joyce (Winona Ryder’s role). In almost every scene with Joyce and Hopper, they are yelling or running. It was a little excessive. No problem with that necessarily but the cartoonish effects of the storytelling took away from the drama that previous seasons maintained. I laughed more than I cared. To their credit, however, I don’t think I could have slept through this season like I did parts of season 2, due to all the screaming.
This season also seemed way more violent than in the past. The last ten minutes of episode 5 would have been rated R for violence if this were being shown in a theater. That’s not a huge problem for me but everyone in our house noticed it without being prompted.
Obviously, there is LGBT stuff thrown into the writing on this season. There is a rule written somewhere in Netflix writing and editing rooms that this must be included. And why not. Adolescence is an awkward, insecure phase. The message we should be sending to kids is that the resolution of that awkwardness can be found in sexual identity.
The music and sound effects continued to be a key player and star in the show. It’s loud. It’s effective. And it is a key part of telling the story. I love the music.
One word of advice. When the credits go up on the final episode, don’t turn the episode off. We should all be trained on this by now thanks to the Marvel movies but just in case…keep watching. There is a strong suggestion that another season is coming and this might be only the latest installment of a never-ending story.
Feel free to leave your own thoughts and review of Stranger Things Season 3 below.