'Stranger Things' season 3 induces nostalgia with its '80s rom-com vibes despite its dark undertones
Season 3 explores relationships that give rise to the warm fuzzy feeling of watching John Hughes suddenly popping up with a boombox outside your window, serenading you.
'Stranger Things' season 3 definitely peaks in terms of its action sequences and supernatural elements, but what the show has also taken the liberty of indulging in this time is showcasing the good old '80s rom-com vibes through three developing relationships, from three different generations. Towards the end of season 2, we saw Mike and Eleven's bond culminate in an innocent kiss, while Nancy and Jonathan decided to turn their friendship into something more (sorry Steve, but your behavior kind of asked for it buddy.) On the other hand, we saw Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers teaming up to fight the evils fronting their children, and there were some definite sparks flying between the two as they became a dynamic duo. Season 3 explores all those relationships, and more, right from the get-go and gives rise to that warm fuzzy feeling of John Hughes suddenly popping up with a boombox outside your window, serenading you.
When Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) met Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) all the way back in season 1, the two were automatically drawn to each other in a way two 11-year-olds find friendship. With season 2, we saw the more nuanced aspect of feelings evolving, but one thing had been constant for the characters, and that's how protective they are of each other. Season 3 does dance around the same, but it also shows a more relatable transition for the two into their teenage years as they discover the perks of making out and like most relationships at that age, want to spend as much time together as possible. With parental supervision and the door staying three inches open at all times, of course. There's also the rebellion that comes with early teen romances and the rage when the two don't particularly see eye to eye. But rounding it all up, they are a clear reminder of Noah and Allie from 'The Notebook' who couldn't stay away from each other, but of course, minus their adulthood despair.
When it comes to Mike's older sister, Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) and her new beau, Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), there's a lot more maturity and respect for each other's opinions and views, something that you wouldn't really expect in a relationship between two kids fresh out of high school. In fact, their relationship is more wholesome and stable than most of the adult couples on the show, but then again, Stranger Things hadn't really focused on the romance aspect before season 3. It's equal parts thrilling and amusing as to how this normal relationship between Nancy and Jonathan just blends into the supernatural thriller aura of the show, especially in an age where problematic teen relationships have become such a seller among its contemporaries. The smart, popular, pretty girl falling for an introverted recluse is a clear reminder of '10 Things I Hate About You' and like Cameron's faith in Bianca as the only one who really saw her more than just a pretty face, that is the kind of respect and mature support we see in Nancy and Jonathan's relationship. They do fight, but it's clear that is not the norm in their relationship, and whenever a crisis comes up, they only come back stronger - sort of reinstalling your faith in classic romcoms.
Things are the least mature with the older generation, amidst the two people who are likely to get into a relationship - Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and her cop-buddy, Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour.) The two absolutely insane parents of Hawkins once again team up in season 3 to solve a mystery that poses a dangerous threat to their town. And just like always, even though they agree to disagree with each other, they bond over parenting. But don't let that distract you from the heavy bickering between them throughout season 3 - something that becomes extremely entertaining to witness as the season progresses. Think of classic romcoms where the typical bad guy falls for the quirky smartass who likes to go on a raging spree every now and then and suddenly Stranger Things is the show that is doing teen romcoms right without even falling under the genre altogether. The Duffer Brothers really weren't messing around and the third time is clearly the charm!
'Stranger Things' season 3 premieres on Thursday, July 4, only on Netflix.