From #Justice4Barb to Mad Max: a skeptical investigation of Stranger Things clichés.

Stranger Things 2, released on October 27, hasn’t inspired quite the same level of conversation that the first season’s surprising success did. But it has nonetheless been well-received, and there’s still plenty to talk about, especially vis-à-vis how the show responded to criticism and made adjustments along the way. So critic at large Todd VanDerWerff and staff writers Caroline Framke, Constance Grady, and Aja Romano got together to talk about how Stranger Things 2 compared to Stranger Things, and where the show could — and should — go from here.

Caroline Framke: We’re a couple of weeks out from the release of Stranger Things 2, and the general consensus seems to be that it pretty much did what the first installment did, only bigger. Will (Noah Schnapp) was once again incapacitated by the Upside Down; Joyce (Winona Ryder) once again trashed her own home in the name of bringing him back from the brink; the “Demogorgon” became countless demogorgons and a mammoth shadow monster. But there was at least one area in which Stranger Things 2 made a concerted effort to differentiate itself from Stranger Things: Original Flavor: It tried to treat its female characters like, y’know, people.

The kids’ Dungeons & Dragons party gained a new member in Max (Sadie Sink), the surly new kid in town with an unbeatable high score at the arcade and a horrible brother (wow, does he suck). Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) went on a quest to find her mom that eventually brought her to Kali/Eight (Linnea Berthelsen), her Hawkins Lab “sister.” Joyce found solace in the aggressively nice Bob (Sean Astin), short-lived though it was. The season even made a glancing attempt to find #JusticeForBarb Read More Here