‘Stranger Things’ season 2 reviews: ‘The old magic returns’ in sequel to last year’s Netflix sleeper hit

The second season of “Stranger Things” is being promoted as “Stranger Things 2,” so more like a sequel to a popular ’80s film than a continuation of a series. It premiered on Friday, October 27, just in time for Halloween and it’s one of the most highly anticipated premieres of the fall TV and streaming season. But does part two live up to the original?

As of this writing “Stranger Things” has a strong MetaCritic score of 78 and 92% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. So it looks like it has withstood the heightened expectations leading up to it. The first season debuted with relatively little fanfare in July 2016 and gradually built a passionate following through strong word-of-mouth. That led to a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Drama Series, a SAG victory for Best TV Drama Ensemble, and five Emmy wins out of 18 nominations.

“A lot of the old magic returns” from the first season, according to many critics. It retains “the same essential elements,” and it’s still “masterly” in its blending of ’80s influences with modern storytelling. It’s “at its strongest” when focusing on its child characters, played by “an extremely versatile and effective ensemble,” but the adult actors also show “subtle skill and ease.”

Will you be binging season two of “Stranger Things” this weekend? Check out some of the reviews below, and discuss this and more with your fellow TV fans in our forums.

Maureen Ryan (Variety): “The good news is, the show’s core cast remains an extremely versatile and effective ensemble, and once the story kicks into a higher gear about halfway through the nine-episode season, a lot of the old magic returns … The adult actors — especially Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton and Joe Keery — anchor every psychological nuance with subtle skill and ease.”

Melanie McFarland (Salon): “‘Stranger Things’ is at its strongest when it reminds the viewer that it is a child’s story. One with nightmarish extradimensional dreamscapes teeming with man-eating monsters but, yes, it’s a kid’s story. Although we meet more of the kids’ parents this time around, the sequel’s finest moments honor everything we know about the original band of brave kids as their relationship and rivalries shift.”

Sophie Gilbert (The Atlantic): “‘Stranger Things 2’ has the same essential elements as the first season, and its ability to remix and mashup cultural influences into a cohesive whole is still masterly. But, more than ever, the new episodes have a deep engagement with the trauma that many of the show’s characters have experienced.”

Willa Paskin (Slate): “The new season gives last season’s supporting players bigger roles. Comic relief Dustin and Nancy’s boyfriend, Steve — the popular jock from a John Hughes movie if he were given the good edit — pair up in the season’s most inspired and unexpected storyline.”

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