Critic Has a Beef With Stranger Things

It's grown too sprawling, writes Stuart Heritage, who wonders whether it counts as TV anymore
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2022 10:44 AM CDT
Time for Stranger Things to Cull the Cast
The "Stranger Things" cast pose together at the Season 4 premiere at Netflix Studios Brooklyn on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Fans of Stranger Things waited years for Season 4, and so far, most everyone seems to like what they see. The season's last two episodes were released this week, and as he prepares to watch, Guardian writer Stuart Heritage hopes to witness an abject bloodbath. First, however, he’ll need to find time to watch it; not everyone can drop what they’re doing for a two-and-a-half hour TV show (the length of episode No. 9 alone). Overall, Season 4’s episodes are mostly movie-length and considerably longer than previous installments. Heritage says an overextended cast of characters is to blame. “Stranger Things may have started off as a cute little sci-fi show about kids battling a monster, but the thing has got ungainly,” he writes, adding that “the initial crew remains, but so does just about everyone they have met along the way, and they all need tending to.”

Heritage compares it to the Marvel Universe, another immensely popular, sweeping franchise with a huge cast that “revolves around a mythology that has got out of hand.” He also points out that—since the advent of streaming—longer runtimes have become more common across the industry, such that “start and finish times no longer mean anything to viewers.” As for the roughly four hours packed into these two Stranger Things episodes, Heritage hopes archvillain Vecna slaughters “everyone who isn’t integral to the plot” so Season 5 “can snap back into a recognizable shape: a bunch of kids fighting the devil while referencing Teen Wolf.” (Read the full essay.)

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