Netflix’s hit original series Stranger Things has a very clear aesthetic. It takes place in the eighties, which defines all of the show’s visuals: the neon logo, the synthesized score, the Goonies-esque relationship between the young characters…the list goes on and on. It’s all designed to give off a very specific vibe, as is the seasonal setting for the first two seasons: fall. The crisp spookiness of autumn lends itself nicely to Stranger Things‘ supernatural narratives. What can we say? The Upside Down just seems scarier when you’re watching it as the temperature drops. This certainly explains why the Duffer Brothers chose to open season two just three days before Halloween. A freaky show is even freakier if it takes place on October 31.
But Stranger Things is changing things up for season three. There was a one-year time jump between the first two seasons (November 1983 and October 1984), but that’s not happening for chapter three. Instead, things are kicking off in the summer of 1985: just six months after Eleven closed the Upside Down and finally kissed Mike at the Snow Ball.
The reason for this, according to Stranger Things executive producer Shawn Levy, is threefold. For one, the show needs to illustrate how the child actors are growing up. “We have told autumnal, fall, school-based stories, but we also want to keep acknowledging that the kids are growing up, so if we picked up the action a month later, but the kids looked a year plus older, that would feel like a lie,” Levy told us at PaleyFest over the weekend. “So the Harry Potter model of letting the show age with the kids is what we’re adopting.”
Stranger Things also wants to play with the contrast between summer froth and eerie visuals. “I think the Duffers have such a good nose for the combination of fun and scary, so what is a better setting for that dialectic more than summer?” Levy said. “It’s parades and the local swimming pool and maybe Billy without a shirt and bonfires and Fourth of July fireworks, so I can tell you that season three makes the most of that summer setting.” Um, did he just tease shirtless Dacre Montgomery? Season three already sounds like a winner.
“It’s also a season of change, and changing the season, changing the vibe of that town, which summer does, right?” Levy added. “That place feels different in summer, so that was a big part of our theme, which is change has come.”
So what does this mean for the characters? Well, Levy assured us season three won’t abandon Mike and Eleven’s newly-formed relationship. “I think we’d all be devastated if we can back to Hawkins a year later and suddenly Mike and Eleven are history. I know I want to revisit that couple, so season three does explore that romance,” he said. Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, told us she’s excited to see where that relationship goes.
And it looks like Max and Lucas’ (Sadie Sink and Caleb McLaughlin) relationship will be revisited too. (Remember, the two of them also kissed at the Snow Ball.) “You can’t just end the story with them [kissing] and that’s done,” Laughlin told us. Agreed.
There’s no word yet on when Stranger Things season three will debut, but don’t worry: Just because it takes place in the summer doesn’t mean producers will wait until summer 2019 to release it. Levy promised us the team is working “as fast as [they] can.”
“It timed out really well that October, which was the setting for season two launched around Halloween. We have no grand plan for that same simultaneity,” Levy said. “We are shooting starting in April. We don’t want to rush [postproduction] because, once again, there’s a lot of visual effects, and so, no, we aren’t necessarily going to hold on so that we launch at the same time that we’re set. You also wouldn’t be happy if we rushed it. As soon as we lock down a release date, which we expect to be soon, we will let everyone know.”
Let the countdown begin.