Aside from some pretty nasty violence and bullies, there’s little nastiness about Stranger Things 2. It is dark, sure enough — bleak, even. But its protagonists are sincere, loyal, and courageous in a way we all aspire to be.
We already know Stranger Things is a show about nostalgia. It’s an ode to Stephen King and Steven Spielberg, Alien and The Goonies, 80’s songs and pop culture. But the show’s quality cast of heroes is perhaps the most nostalgic thing about it. It reminds us of the heroic characters we truly looked up to as kids — the Aragorns and Jane Eyres, Spidermans and Nancy Drews. It reminds us of uncomplicated stories of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, heroism vs. villainy. In a sense, it’s deeply comforting. But that doesn’t prevent it from also being inspirational. Virtue, when portrayed well, tends to be just that. It doesn’t have to be smarmy.