The Duffer brothers talk tone, plot, and chocolate pudding.
We recently spoke to Matt and Ross Duffer – the brilliant brothers behind Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things – and while chatting about Season 1 we also tried to get some information on Season 2, which hasn’t yet been officially green-lit but which the Duffers are nervertheless busy working on.
So the following is what they were prepared to reveal about the follow-up, which they’ve already stated will take place in 1984, a year after the events of Season 1. Just beware of POTENTIAL SPOILERS if you want to go into the next series blind. And apologies to the Duffers if I put the wrong quote next to the wrong name – you guys really do sound similar over the phone!
1. Season 2 Will be Weirder and Darker
Matt Duffer: We like thinking of these as movies, and it’s going to feel very different, and I’m sure that a lot of people are going to prefer Season 1, but I think a lot of people will prefer Season 2, because I think it’s going to be a little darker, and a little weirder. I think we feel like we have a license to go a little weirder in this season, so that’s been a lot of fun. We’re going to have a bit more VFX to play around with. We’re really excited about it. 1984 was a f*%king amazing year, especially the movies that came out in the summer of 1984 – it was just a great year for pop culture. Ghostbusters just came out, Temple of Doom, Karate Kid, Gremlins – it was an awesome year for cinema, so we’re trying, hopefully, to capture a little bit of the magic of those films. Something like Temple of Doom – I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did. Even though it was probably slammed at the time – obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film – that it really traumatised some children. Not saying that we want to traumatise children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder.
2. It Will Feature Another Self-Contained Plot
Ross Duffer: I think as much as possible we’re thinking about it as a sequel. We want to call it Stranger Things 2. It was important in Season 1 that we have this very clear tension – Will Byers goes missing and it’s about finding him and bringing him back. And we resolved that main tension, obviously. There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there’s a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end. So it’s going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is.
3. There Will be Justice for Barb
We already revealed that Brenner will be returning for Season 2, but Barbara remains very much dead. However, that’s not to say her character will be ignored…
Matt: “Barb will not be forgotten. We’ll make sure there’s some justice for Barb. People get very frustrated, understandably, that the town doesn’t seem to really be dealing with Barb. That stuff is all happening, we’re just not spending any screen time on it. It’s not like her parents are like ‘Oh, Barb left. She died!’ Season 1 actually takes place over the course of six or seven days – it’s a really short period of time. So part of what we want to do in the hypothetical Season 2 is to explore the repercussions of everything that happened. Everything was left a bit of a mess in that there’s a little bit of clean-up to be done. It was so messy that it’s impossible to completely clean that up so a lot of it bubbles to the surface in Season 2.
4. Jonathan Might Have a Chance With Nancy
There was something of a love triangle in play during Season 1, with Nancy torn between cocky jock Steve and shy nerd Jonathan. Ultimately she ended up with Steve, but that could yet change…
Ross: We make a month-long jump [in Season 1] and we don’t really get into what happened in that month, but I will say that obviously, even though Nancy and Jonathan were making a connection, we really wanted Steve to make that hero turn at the end. He leaves his obnoxious, terrible friends and ends up saving the day with the monster and the baseball bat. So we did want Steve to make this turn. Part of that was because Joe Keery who played him was just supposed to be this obnoxious douchebag but he was so likable that he gave the character such dimensions that we wanted to give him an arc at the end.
Matt: Jonathan is a complicated guy. He’s not the smoothest when it comes to dealing with girls. He’s never had – in my eyes anyway – he’s never had a girlfriend. So he doesn’t really know what the hell he’s doing. Whereas Steve knows what he’s doing. I feel it’s very realistic. Some of it is just me still angry about High School, in a very immature way. I never got a girl in High School. It didn’t happen. If Jonathan ends up getting Nancy that’s like a fantasy to me – it doesn’t feel very realistic. But maybe we can build to it.
5. Dustin Will Potentially Have All the Pudding He Wants
When they’re holed up in the school, Dustin discovers a stash of chocolate puddings in the kitchen, but doesn’t get to eat them due to the monster attack. However, that might not be the last we’ve seen of Dustin’s dessert.
Ross: I feel like after the encounter with the monster that the pudding was probably forgotten, but I’m sure when Dustin goes back to school he gives lunch lady Phyllis some sh*t about it.
Matt: Now he knows that there’s this pudding he’s going to get pudding whenever he wants it. That would be my guess. Every day at lunch he’ll just have chocolate pudding. It was funny – when we were shooting that Gaten [Matarazzo] is very much, basically Dustin. Sometimes I’d call Gaten, Dustin and Dustin, Gaten – they’re very interchangable. And he loves snacks, he loves candy, so he was very excited by all this pudding. But then he was disgusted because he opened it up and realised that it wasn’t actually pudding in those cans, because they don’t actually make cans of pudding anymore, it was some sort of mushy-like meat, like cat food. Something disgusting. So they were all really disappointed that there wasn’t actually pudding in them.
6. It Probably Won’t be the Last Season
Finally, we asked the Duffers how many seasons they’ll need to tell the Stranger Things story.
Matt: We’re still figuring it out to be honest – how much time we need. I don’t imagine it being a long, long series. It’s impossible for me to imagine a six or seven season series. I feel like we have a story we want to tell. We have an ending that we want to get to and I guess the question is just how long to we need to get there. At a certain point though the story is going to become unbelievable. We do want to be really truthful in terms of how the characters react and respond to things. And it feels like they would leave Hawkins – they would have to leave Hawkins, and then eventually the story falls apart. So we have an ending that we want to get to in a believable way and it’s just us figuring out how many episodes and potential seasons we’d need to tell that story. So I guess the short answer is we’re still figuring out that. But the shows that we really look up to – I think Breaking Bad is my favourite… it feels like it was never treading water. It felt like it built to an ending that was very much intended from the beginning. It feels like a very, very complete show, and it just nailed the landing, so that’s the goal and the hope, and it’s really, really difficult. But hopefully we get there.
Chris Tilly is the Entertainment Editor for IGN in the UK and wrote this piece about his love for Stranger Things. He can be found talking nonsense on The Superhero Show and Twitter.