The fact I’m a Stranger Things fan might come as a surprise to anyone who could see my Netflix history. I normally opt for shows like Bridgerton and Love is Blind — you know, the mindless reality TV style vibes, where the biggest drama that unfolds is a messy love triangle or someone cheating on their spouse.
That said, I’ve followed Stranger Things since season one, and I was more than happy to enter the Upside Down version of my living room and put my normal TV choices aside for nine hours upon the release of season four (here’s when the second part is coming out for those equally as hooked).
Warning: I’ll be talking about some specific moments from the show in this article, so stop reading, call me a baby and look away now if you’re not ready for spoilers.
What happened to the cute kids on bikes?
About 30-minutes into the fourth series of the hit Netflix show I had one huge problem — it was terrifying. Whereas seasons one and two had hinted at the supernatural, which of course, is scary if you think about it for too long, season four hits you with full-on gore in episode one.
Thirty-four minutes into the first episode, I, like Chrissy Cunningham, am terrified by the monster peering around the toilet door. Half an hour later, I’m hiding behind the sofa cushions as the popular cheerleader’s eyes pop out and limbs break.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to horror. I was never one of those kids desperate to sneak into the scary films at the theater. Simba’s dad dying in Lion King was about as much as my tiny mind could take. As an adult, I was no better — my partner has never let me forget the moment I screamed until I cried after mistaking the Christmas tree for a killer after watching an episode of BBC crime drama Luther. Anything rated more than a 15 is a no-go, and I turn 30 next month.
Armed with this information, you’ll understand why I found Eleven’s constant flashbacks to dead children in the Hawkins National Laboratory's Rainbow Room terrifying. You’ll see why I couldn’t cope with the brutal scenes of torture, both to Hopper in the hands of the Russians, and Agent Wallace by the FBI. Heck, even the cover photo of this article is too much. Make no mistake, the cute kids on bikes are teens now — Eleven’s superpowers might be gone, but she’s smashing bullies’ faces in with rollerskates instead.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), Executive Producer Shawn Levy confirmed the show was too frightening for younger viewers, saying. “I was occasionally nervous that the show was going so dark, it would be off-putting to the younger viewers that have flocked to our show. When we made season one, we thought this was a 13-and-over kind of viewing experience. What we now know is that kids as young as 9 and 10 are watching Stranger Things, and I knew that this season would be scary as sh*t for some of those viewers. The Duffers, to their credit, pointed out that every time we go darker, somehow our audience stays with us and grows.” Netflix, too, has rated the show a 15.
Will I continue watching? Of course. But I’m hanging around for Dustin and Steve’s friendship, more Kate Bush songs, and this will-they-won't-they Nancy-Steve storyline. Perhaps the reason Netflix has made us wait a month till we find out more is so we can all stop having nightmares about Vecna and start sleeping without a light on again. Just me?