Netflix’s third season of Stranger Things, referred to as Stranger Things 3, officially launched on July 4th, and it has been wildly popular since its release. The Netflix original series was viewed by roughly 40.7 million household accounts just four days after it aired, and about 18.2 million completed the season within that same time frame. Additionally, the season has received positive reviews from most critics and viewers. Fans of the Stranger Things series grew attached to the bustling, retro Starcourt Mall as well as newly established characters. Although slightly different from the past seasons, the third installment is a vast improvement from season two, and there are three elements that I feel help bring the story to life.
NOTE: This post may contain spoilers.
Stranger Things 3 welcomes a new shopping center, Starcourt Mall, which serves as an important setting in season three. Not only does it house a secret Russian base deep underground, but it greatly altered life in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The brand-new mall resulted in the closure of small businesses throughout the town and served as a new gathering place for residents, especially Hawkins’ youth.
Starcourt Mall was a novel concept for Hawkins that introduced popular shops for consumers to enjoy. Because the show takes place in the 1980s, the mall was designed to complement that time period. Complete with vibrant colors and neon lights, Starcourt Mall represented the heydey of American shopping malls. Viewers can spot iconic stores and restaurants as they appeared in the 80s, including The Gap, JCPenny, Levi’s, Claire’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell, as well as companies that have since ceased operations, such as Waldenbooks and Sam Goody. Such brands helped bring malls to life, attracting teens and other demographics, and serving as temporary jobs for America’s youth. Starcourt Mall, specifically, became the teens’ (Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will, et al.) main hangout spot and Steve’s place of employment. The nostalgic glance at a 1980s shopping mall allows viewers to visually see what life was like at the time and perceive how society has since changed. Starcourt Mall made for a fantastic setting for this year’s season due to these reasons. The inception of the mall, however, also brought a much-needed refreshment by introducing an entirely new and drastically different setting.
The Scoops Troop
Season three’s storyline largely separates the main characters, creating multiple groups that each discover the strange occurrences in Hawkins in distinct ways. Steve, Robin, Dustin, and Erica form what can be dubbed the “Scoops Troop.” Out of the groups in the season, the Scoops Troop are by far the most prominent and memorable, and for various reasons.
The Duffer Brothers, the creators of Stranger Things, refine Steve’s identity, making him more admirable than ever before. His original obnoxious behavior essentially faded in season two; he is now a frolicsome father figure who scoops ice cream for a living. Steve’s true personality becomes more apparent when we further see his close relationship with Dustin and his behavior towards his partner in scooping, Robin, a new character with as much of a spiffing persona as Steve. Lucas’s sister, Erica, later joins the crew because she is a valuable asset to the gang’s mission. The characters in the quartet provide the most iconic lines and comedic moments that simply cannot be forgotten.
The addition of Robin and Erica’s larger roles works seamlessly with the story. In fact, it truly helps the narrative unfold in a rather unique way.
As previously noted, the four characters that comprise the Scoops Troop have some of the most unforgettable and laughable lines, including:
“How many children are you friends with?” – Robin
“How many times, dad? I don’t do drugs. It’s only marijuana.” – Steve
“Not my feet, dumbass. Push my ass.” – Dustin
“Um, I’m ten, you bald bastard!” – Erica
Alexei (a.k.a. Smirnoff)
Alexei, often called Smirnoff by Hopper, was a Russian scientist who was working to break down the wall that opens to the Upside Down. Although he was initially portrayed as somewhat of a ruthless Russian, we begin to learn that he’s rather innocent; has a vivacious attitude; and simply wants to watch cartoons, drink cherry Slurpees, and enjoy the luxuries America has to offer. The Russian-speaking character brings a sense of hope and additional humor to the show. Despite Alexei having a short-lived appearance in the season, he quickly won the hearts of many fans of the Stranger Things series. Alexei’s unfortunate fate sparked fans to honor him with cherry Slurpees on 7-Eleven’s Free Slurpee Day.
Stranger Things is by far one of the hottest shows out at the moment, and the third installment is my personal favorite. Season three builds on each of the characters’ personalities and establishes new troubles that go beyond the Upside Down. Furthermore, the season adds more sensations that the previous installments mostly lacked, including, but not limited to, a great deal of humor and moments of sadness. These elements as well as the all-new Starcourt Mall, the iconic quartet (Steve, Robin, Dustin, and Erica), and Alexei make Stranger Things 3 a sincere sensation. After the season finale, we’re left to wonder what the expected fourth season has in store.
Stranger Things 3 is now streaming on Netflix.