• Stranger Things returns for a third season on July 4.
• Before then, there’s a lot of time for TV viewing.
• There are other shows that could scratch the same Stranger Things itch.
Get ready to return to the Upside Down. The third season of Stranger Things, dropping on July 4, is just over a month away. And while the first two seasons are great—chock full of shocks, excitement, humor, cultural references, and homages to both Stephen King and Steven Spielberg—there are only so many times you can rewatch the 17 chapters that The Duffer Brothers have given us thus far.
So that’s where we come in. If you’ve already binged the first two seasons over and over and over again, it’s OK—there are other ways to scratch that same itch. There are other portals to creepy worlds, and more ways to access bizarre, creepy people in small towns, and alternate options to get a glimpse at some truly creepy monsters. For now, while we wait for our ticket back to Hawkins, Indiana, here are some more viewing recommendations for when you start hankering for a bit of the bizarre.
Charlie Brooker’s series of cautionary tales includes a handful of episodes which share the Eighties setting and aesthetic of Stranger Things, including the recent “Bandersnatch,” an interactive film about a troubled young man trying to adapt the ultimate video game from a choose-your-own-adventure novel. We reckon Will, Mike, Dustin and Lucas have read their fair share those sorts of books, and would be into this twisted take on the medium.
Dropping on Netflix a few months after the first season of Stranger Things, a lot of people expected Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s drama to follow similar genre territory. And while the suburban setting and teenage misfits do ring a bell, The OA is very much its own curious creation. Opening with the sudden reappearance of a girl who has been missing for eight years, and weaving meditations on faith and love into an often glacially paced mystery, The OA is at times a truly bonkers viewing experience. But while the story asks a lot, it also rewards with a series of compelling performances.
The show that arguably both created and defined the genre of “strange goings-on in a small town,” Twin Peaks shares DNA with Stranger Things. Both shows begin with a mystery: in Stranger Things it was Will’s disappearance, in Twin Peaks it was the murder of teenager Laura Palmer. Just like the search for Will led viewers into a dark realm known as the Upside Down, so, too, does the hunt for Laura Palmer’s killer. The Black Lodge, David Lynch’s dreamlike space decked red curtains, is now an unmistakable part of television history—having even been spoofed on The Simpsons. And while there are no Demogorgons in the town of Twin Peaks, we challenge you to find a scarier TV villain than Bob.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A town where weird things keep happening. A group of misfits who become best friends. A teenage girl burdened with superpowers she never asked for. And endless pop culture references. Sound familiar? Buffy took the idea that “high school is hell” and made it literal, weaving a high-stakes tale of good vs. evil into a much more relatable coming-of-age story.
American Horror Story
Ryan Murphy’s luridly gory anthology series borrows almost as much from the horror of the Sixties and Seventies as Stranger Things does from the Eighties. Each season tells its own self-contained story, drawing inspiration from such classics as The Haunting, Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. And by sheer coincidence, its latest installment, coming in October, is titled “1984” and looks to be an homage to the slasher genre.
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