The hit sci-fi series Stranger Things reclaimed Netflix on Friday, October 27 with its second season — perfect timing for a Halloween treat.
In 2016, the first season developed a global following and went on to win five Emmys and finalize the year as one of the most-streamed shows online. So, well-awaited favourites like Eleven, Mike and Sheriff Hopper will once again lead viewers into the world of the Demogorgon for a full nine episodes.
But if you’re a fan that wants to get better acquainted with things you might have missed behind and on the scenes, read on.
- Watching the first season you’ll see nods to classic films and ‘80s music. The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a repeated theme along with other gems, but the musicians that really set the tone for the series are members of the synth band Survive, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. The bars almost make you compare the theme song to the creations of John Williams — creator of the Jaws theme song — in iconicism and suitability for the show. The duo wrote the spectral theme song and the spine-chilling synth score and now have an avid social media following.
- Gaten Matarazzo who plays Dustin Henderson on the show bravely spoke out about his disability last year, revealing that he suffers from cleidocranial dysplasia which affects the development of his bones and teeth. Matarazzo included that he speaks with a lisp because he still has his baby teeth, and does not have collar bones.
“I just want to raise awareness for it and let people know that it’s not something that you should be afraid of showing,” he said. Matarazzo can also sing!
- The Duffer brothers are quite diligent at leaving behind the odd clue here and there throughout the season, but one thing that many viewers missed is that the Demogorgon is a villain from the advanced Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) version. The intro scene in season one finds the boys playing D&D, and particularly when Will uses a fireball to attack the ‘gorgon’ which is unsuccessful. This links to Nancy, Jonathan and Steve’s failed attempt at killing the monster by setting it on fire and foreshadows Will’s abduction.
It is also believed that the term “Demogorgon” is actually derived from a typo of the Greek word “demiurge,” meaning “creator of the world.” In other words, the monster could be named after a typo.
- Millie Bobby Brown or Eleven was born and raised in Spain, but when she was just seven years old her parents decided to apply her to acting school in Los Angeles. They’ve moved to the U.S., since then, and although she is only 12 years old, she made the decision to shave her head for the role. Brown was nervous at first, but the director told her to “have the mind-frame of Charlize Theron in Mad Max.”
To top it off, Steven Spielberg and Stephen King were two influences that the Duffer brothers looked to for inspiration while making the series. And in 2014, King spotted Brown for her performance in Intruders, tweeting: “Millie Brown, the girl in INTRUDERS, is terrific. Is it my imagination, or are child actors a lot better than they used to be?” The crew also said that Eleven’s death scene “was the funniest scene to film.”
- There is a 30-page document that exists solely to explain the Upside Down for the twin Duffer brothers. As Ross Duffer explained, “we have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one … We have that whole other world that we haven’t fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful.” And the brothers say they may never reveal the full truth about the Upside Down.
“We’re telling this story from the point of view of very human characters. There’s no way they can ever truly fully understand this place. We have our Upside Down document which describes its rules and its mythology in quite a bit of detail, but I think we’re just going to slowly parse that out, and maybe not even fully use all of it,” said Duffer.
- The reminiscent poster for the series was created by Kyle Lambert who was inspired by the art style of Drew Struzan, who is an acclaimed poster and album artwork artists that created posters for Staw Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and many more.
But not only did the poster pay homage to old films, the character of Nancy Wheeler also pays homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street. The similar hair, clothing style and arrangement of traps for the Demogorgon is reminiscent of the showdown between Nancy Thompson and Freddy Kruger.
- Netflix bought Stranger Things within 24 hours of hearing the pitch and producers read the pilot script back in 2014. Executive producer Dan Cohen said, “We read this pilot and sat with them [the Duffer brothers] and started talking about this project and how to bring it to the world.”
And bring it to the world they did as casting selection for the show took months and the crew went through over 100 auditions before making their selection on the cast group.
- Other homages paid during the show included the homemade ghost costume for Eleven as a familiarization of E.T., as Eleven’s character was inspired by the VHS extraterrestrial. As well, a nod went to the Gremlins as Dustin found a “polywog” in his garbage can and fed it his three Musketeers bar. According to CBR, the parallels are “particularly in the critter’s aversion to light, and in its grotesque metamorphosis as it grows from something cute into something horrific.”
Another nod went to the Exorcist as Winona Rydet sat in a room full of medical professionals and demanded that they tell her what was wrong with her child.
So, with some new found appreciations, or old, for the first season, go forth and enjoy the second! But even though “you shouldn’t like things just because people tell you you’re supposed to,” as Jonathan said in Chapter 2 of Season 1, maybe just this once wouldn’t hurt.