‘Stranger Things 3’ Will Be Set in 1985 and Feature More “Dad Steve”

The ships are also going strong for the kids on the show, but that may not be the best thing moving forward.
Stranger Things
By  · Published on March 27th, 2018

The ships are also going strong for the kids on the show, but that may not be the best thing moving forward.

Nostalgia for the 1980s isn’t a new concept, but it certainly began to feel so much fresher the moment that Stranger Things took the world by storm. The show maintains its status as an engrossing sci-fi extravaganza while being a great gateway to the landmarks of the decade. As the show moves into its third season, executive producer Shawn Levy declares that Stranger Things will keep indulging in pop culture and fan favorites.

In recent weeks, verbal abuse allegations against Stranger Things creators and showrunners, the Duffers, do dampen any excitement for the next season of Stranger Things. But Levy still dished out some details about Season 3 — which is due to start filming next month — at the show’s PaleyFest 2018 panel.

While Season 2 teases audiences with Ghostbusters and Mad Max vibes, Season 3 seems set on recalling Back to the Future. The new season will take place in the summer of 1985, a year after Eleven closed the gate to the Upside Down. This keeps Stranger Things in line with its previous season’s time-jump narrative-wise, but also continues the show’s tradition of being a glossy, hopeful look back into the past, at least in terms of atmosphere and culture. But obviously, the Mind Flayer is still out there, biding its time in the Upside Down, so we’ll have to take what little comfort we have in time-traveling DeLoreans with a healthy pinch of salt.

Levy also revealed that everyone’s favorite new parental figure, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), will remain as dad-like as he was in Season 2. While a thoroughly pleasant shift from the conflicted mostly-jerk that Steve was in Season 1, his new characterization was not a change that everyone accepted as a natural progression. Steve was, after all, initially written as a far grosser character in early drafts of the scripts. Even Levy admits that “Dad Steve” was a fluke:

“We’ll definitely get to see some more of Steve Harrington in Season 3, and I’ll just say we won’t be abandoning the ‘Dad Steve’ magic. I don’t want to say much more, but I literally feel that we were walking along and we stumbled onto a gold mine with ‘Dad Steve.'”

But as far as fan service goes, the fact that Steve continues to be the kids’ de facto leader is something to be optimistic about. That said, he doesn’t just have to be “Dad Steve.” Seeing how this new characterization meshes with his more conflicted Season 1 persona would make for a more interesting arc. It will be tough to fit in even more character development with so many existing players and the addition of a couple more recurring roles (Priah Ferguson will return as Lucas’s sister Erica, and Maya Thurman-Hawke will play a new character who is drawn by Hawkins’ secrets). That said, Steve is one of the few Stranger Things characters with such obvious character progression. We just never quite see how he gets to that point, and Season 3 should clue us in.

Levy also spoke about the relationships that developed by the end of Season 2, speaking especially about the younger members of the cast and where their budding romances will go in the next season. This is where news about the show could get a little tricky. According to Levy:

“Mike and Eleven and are going strong, so that’s a relationship that continues, and same with Mad Max and Lucas. But again, they’re like 13- or 14-year-old kids, so what does romance mean at that stage of life? It can never be simple and stable relationships, and there’s fun to that instability.”

There’s no doubt that the kids’ relationships with each other are the crutch of the show, regardless of romance. We care about the boys as a group, and how they learn to be brave heroes of Hawkins alongside their superpowered new friend and the ordinary people of their town. Levy’s comments — while being understandably vague — obviously plays into the fandom love for Mike/Eleven in particular. Their dynamic brings out a sensitive side to the loud D&D-loving nerd and humanizes a superhuman girl, and now that they’re finally reunited after spending most of Season 2 apart, it’s imperative to know where their relationship goes next.

However, young love can be one of the real emotional tethers in Stranger Things as long as the pitfalls of seasons past are avoided or subverted. Love triangles are significant plot points for both seasons of Stranger Things so far, but there doesn’t need to be any more. Considering how Levy references “instability” when it comes to describing these ships involving much younger teenagers, we can maybe expect melodrama. Although please, no more pitting girls against one another. Closer to the realm of reality, the creepy reality of the Max/Lucas kiss is still troubling. So perhaps Stranger Things shouldn’t sell itself on romance after all.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)