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Stranger Things Creators Explain Season 4’s Tonal Shift




During Geeked Week, one of the things discussed about Stranger Things 4 was the inevitable march of time. As the actors grow up, the characters have to grow up to. Though not at the same rate, season 4 sees the former youngsters just entering high school. This aging up also informed a tone shift going forward in the show.

“Them growing older forces the show to evolve. [For us] middle school was a fun adventure [and] high school was horrible. I have nothing but terrible memories of high school,” said series co-creator Matt Duffer, via Rotten Tomatoes.

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Calling up these not-so-fond memories, Matt and his co-creator brother Ross infused the season with a greater exploration of anxiety and depression. Something best represented by the new villain Vecna, who is to trauma what Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund, who notably makes a cameo during ST4) is to nightmares.

“Season 3 [was] our big blockbuster movie. Season 4 was Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser,” he said.

One character who Vecna sets his sights on is Max Mayfield. As her actress Sadie Sink explains, the audience eventually learns that Vecna targets people who are “in a real place,” and Max is one of those people because she’s dealing with the grief of Billy’s death. However, luckily Max has the music of Kate Bush to help her in what some call ST4’s best scene.

The season also sees Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) struggling with several new challenges. Besides dealing with a dark and terrible secret in her past, she also has to deal with one of the worst elements of high school. Bullies. And all this is without the psychic powers the character previously possessed before burning herself out in Stranger Things 3.

“I’m definitely really excited about the fans seeing Eleven without powers, and her struggle and the frustration of wanting to use them because she’s so used to using them. The fourth season… I really appreciate the Duffers taking away her main ability. Her most favorite thing of all, her most valued and dependent thing that she has in her life is her super powers. And taking that away, where does that leave us? And who am I, really?” Brown said.