There’s One Annoying Problem With The Otherwise Wonderful ‘Stranger Things’

(Warning: Spoilers are oozing out of the Upside-Down.)

By now, you’ve either watched Netflix’s latest critically-acclaimed hit, Stranger Things, or you’ve heard about how awesome it is from every friend, family member, and coworker in your life. Maybe you’re at least preparing to binge-watch when you have eight free hours, or you’re behind on the fun so you’re asking, “What’s the big deal?” and refusing to watch, because the show is too mainstream for your hipster tastes. Whatever the case may be, people cannot stop talking about Stranger Things and so it shocked no one when Netflix bosses recently admitted it was a no-brainer to ask the Duffer brothers for a second season (and maybe more).

As for the Duffer brothers, what a victory lap they’re taking. The M. Night Shyamalan protégés are quickly generating a ton of buzz for their breakout effort, and every positive review and 140-character bit of praise is justified. This series is so good that you almost have to wonder if a second season is a wise idea, because the Shyamalan connection obviously makes us nervous about a follow-up to a smash debut. But let’s not focus on the future when we can still celebrate what makes Stranger Things so much fun to watch.

First and foremost, the ‘80s setting is so beautifully done that it genuinely feels like you’re watching an eight-hour ‘80s movie. The attention to detail seems effortless and even flawless, which is a breath of fresh air since most ‘80s or ‘90s throwbacks tend to force nostalgia down our throats by putting a product or fad in every scene (“OMG it’s a Commodore 64, can you imagine kids trying that today?”). In Stranger Things, the boys play Dungeons & Dragons, Eleven crushes a soda can with her mind and later binges on Eggo waffles, and Joyce Byers freaks out when her second corded phone is also fried by mysterious electricity. You watch it, maybe giggle or smirk at the references, but it’s still the story and performances that matter most.

Speaking of performances, Winona Ryder certainly gave her best (or worst?) as a single mom melting down. David Harbour doesn’t usually get the credit he deserves for his acting, and Chief Jim Hopper was a great flawed hero with nothing to lose. (Harbour was also great as the crooked cop in The Equalizer, but ultimately overshadowed by Denzel Washington’s epic good guy rampage.) But the breakout hit would be nothing without its breakout stars, as Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Gaten Matarazzo (as the beloved Dustin), and Finn Wolfhard (Mike) teach us about real friendship (without being overly annoying like some kid actors). And because of her performance as the silent-but-deadly Eleven, Millie Bobby Brown is probably going to become quite busy, assuming that Hollywood comes calling with a ton of roles for the talented 12-year-old.

Natalia Dyer’s portrayal of Nancy Wheeler gave us a believable teen girl caught between “good girl” priorities and her heart, while Charlie Heaton’s Jonathan Byers was far more heroic than he was creepy (think Duckie, but with the balls to fight a monster). Shannon Purser delivered a heck of a quiet, nerdy sidekick in Barb, while Rob Morgan and John Reynolds played the perfect hapless small-town cops bumbling their way through the investigation of the mysterious disappearances. Randall P. Havens was quite funny as Mr. Clarke, who just wanted some alone time with his special lady friend, but provided a source of scientific knowledge for the boys, and the bullies were played perhaps too well by Peyton Wich and Cade Jones.

And let’s not forget Joe Keery, who was so convincing as the sex-crazed Steve Harrington that I could make a case for him being one of the all-time great ‘80s a-holes, even if I can’t look at him now without thinking of Jean-Ralphio Saperstein. But it’s Steve that finally brings me to my one nagging problem with Stranger Things

Why the hell didn’t anything bad happen to these a-holes?

Why didn’t the monster ever pop out of a tree or the living room wall and rip Tommy and Carol to shreds, beating them senseless with their own arms and legs?

Why weren’t they glued to the wall with tentacles shoved down their throats after a hilariously gruesome death?

Why didn’t a boulder just fall on them as the season one finale’s credits hit?

They were begging for it more than anyone! Dr. Brenner’s mauling might have been underwhelming, but at least Poor Barb received the same treatment as a dying deer, and no one even really seemed sad that she was gone, but this pair of Grade A jerkwads walked away from a horrifying threat with all of their smarmy limbs still attached to their jerk bodies. What gives, Duffers?

Chester Rushing and Chelsea Talmadge deserve arguably more appreciation than any of the actors in Stranger Things because of how perfectly cartoonishly terrible their characters are, but if life (or fiction) is fair, their survival simply means that Tommy and Carol will get it twice as bad as anyone else when the Upside-Down starts pumping even more monsters out in season two.

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