TV Review: Stranger Things for Tweens? New Season Starts Tomorrow – 7.4.2019!

While I realize that most of you will be celebrating America’s independence tomorrow, here in the Navin house, we have more than one thing to celebrate: that’s right, the third season of Stranger Things is available tomorrow on Netflix! As those of you who read my blog regularly know, my 11 year old son and I LOVE reading together but also tend to bond over binge watching certain TV series. Sometimes I struggle to find shows that are both moderately appropriate for his age and maturity and at least moderately interesting to me (see my posts about the Umbrella Academy and Riverdale) but Stranger Things has really set the bar pretty high for us. We both love the show and I find the content mostly appropriate for his age. Needless to say, we’ve been counting down the days to Season 3.

I have to admit…we were late to the party. Kids had at my son’s school were already dressing up as Eleven for Halloween before we got in on the game. Last year’s long winter days had us searching for something to watch together though and Stranger Things kept coming up as a recommendation. I wasn’t sure it was going to be appropriate…and I definitely wasn’t sure I was going to be into sci-fi (not really my thing) but we decided to give it a go. I’m really glad we did.

For those of you who don’t know, (where have YOU been?) the first season of Stranger Things centered around a local boy (Will Byers) who goes missing, leading to the discovery of a government lab, a nearby portal and some very creepy monsters. Inexplicably, a young girl with a shaved head (Eleven) also shows up in town. Will’s friends (Dustin, Mike and Lucas,) his Mom (Joyce Byers…Winona Ryder) and the local police chief (Jim Hopper) as well as numerous members of the boys’ families and the local community get pulled into the search for Will and for answers. The plot is creepy and twisted (but not in a way that would be too scary or mature for tweens) but the characters that we meet in Hawkins, Indiana are what really sells the show. I think my son cared a great deal about the mystery aspect of the plot while I was focused on caring more about the characters and their lives.

By Season 2, a few new characters have been introduced. The boys have a new friend (Max…a girl) and Joyce has a new boyfriend (Bob…you may know him as Rudy or Samwise!) and even more mysteries to solve. Although Will may have been saved in Season 1, the creepy elements that have taken over Hawkins have not been put to sleep. They are back…and with a vengeance! There’s a touch of a ‘young love’ plot and unlikely relationships form between some of the characters. Overall, the focus of Season 2 is ‘putting the genie back in the bottle,’ if you will. One of the most gruesome scenes in the series occurs near the end of Season 2 (even my son was yelling, ‘Never turn your back on the monsters!’) so you might want to cover some eyes as the locals try to get out of the lab! That scene even haunted me!

We are left with some level of closure at the end of Season 2 but, of course, we suspect that there is more to come (if only because Season 3 already had a release date! :)) Eleven is back where she belongs and I personally can’t wait to see more of her. Personally, my son and I loved both Eleven and Dusty the most. Separately, I have a soft spot for Hopper…his brokenhearted tough guy acts steals my heart every time! (I’m a total sucker!) We can’t wait to see what’s going to unfold in Season 3…the kids will be older and (supposedly) the portal is closed. So where will we find the creepiness this year?

To highlight just how much we loved Seasons 1 and 2, I have to admit: we watched all of the Behind the Scenes footage we could find and both seasons of Beyond Stranger Things which was filled with interviews with directors and cast. If you have extra time, it’s a fun watch if only to learn things like that Mille Bobby Brown (Eleven) is actually British and which cast member was nervous about his/her on-screen kiss! It filled some of the time we spent waiting for Season 3!

As you can see, both my son and I were thoroughly entertained by Seasons 1 and 2 of Stranger Things. But what about the maturity of the content? There is definitely a fair bit of swearing. If you have a problem with your kids hearing ‘bad words,’ this is a series to steer clear of. In general, the swearing is mostly what you would expect to hear from teens when their parents aren’t around (Dustin is the #1 culprit…he begins Season 1 with the phrase ‘We’re in deep shit!’) but it feels germane to the plot, the time and the characters. Expect words like ‘bitchin,’ ‘son of a bitch,’ ‘pissed off’ and the occasional ‘douchebag.’ There’s a bit of sexual innuendo throughout the series…several ‘making out’ scenes but no real nudity or actual sex.

If there were any consideration that might make me keep my kid from watching Stranger Things, it would be the violence. (I mentioned the gruesome scene near the end of Season 2…that’s as bad as it gets) Nonetheless, it’s nothing worse than one might see in Jurassic Park and, if you’re kid is one that plays Fortnite incessantly like mine…you’ve got nothing to worry about here.

As you can see, we truly loved Stranger Things and I thought it was a great series to watch with my son. The 80s throwback content was fun to discuss with him (references to things from my own childhood abound) and the fact that the show is filled with both action (for him) and character development (mostly for me) made it an overall winner across the board. As I said, I’m not sure what Season 3 is going to bring (and I don’t read spoilers so I hope not to know before we start watching!) but we are both truly looking forward to finding out!

To binge watch Seasons 1 and 2 and get ready for Season 3, click the link below.

Stranger Things

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