Chances are, if you’ve watched Stranger Things 2, you’ve already watched the follow-up show Beyond Stranger Things. After all, when the last episode of the second season ended, Netflix already had it cued up and ready to play. But in case you tuned out, it’s a fun look behind the scenes and is worth watching.
Remember DVD commentary tracks?
VHS didn’t generally have such a thing, but there was a time where it seemed every DVD came with a commentary track that you could turn on, and then you could watch the movie while listening to the director or some actors talk about particular scenes. It was a fun way to learn a little more about what went into the creation of a favorite movie—though as time went on I became less likely to rewatch a movie with the commentary on, and it’s been ages since I’ve done that.
Beyond Stranger Things reminds me a little of those commentary tracks, though without rewatching the entire series—because on those DVD commentaries you always had those periods where you could tell they didn’t have anything particularly relevant to say, so they would just gab for a while.
There are just 7 episodes of varying length (the shortest is 15 minutes, and the longest is 25 minutes), shot on an ’80s-ish living room set. It’s hosted by Jim Rash, who moderates the conversations between the Duffer Brothers, producer Shawn Levy, and several members of the cast. In each episode, there’s some grouping of participants, usually in some combination that calls back to particular groups within the show. It goes without saying, but there are spoilers aplenty, so if you haven’t watched Stranger Things 2 yet, you should avoid this show (and probably the rest of this post).
I really liked finding out more about what happens behind the scenes, and it was fun to see the kids getting to be themselves, as a contrast to the characters they play in the series. You get to see outtakes and some scenes before the special effects were added.
However, there were parts of Beyond Stranger Things that bugged me—particularly it felt sometimes like the Duffer Brothers weren’t very considerate toward the child actors. In particular, there’s conversation in the first two episodes about the kiss between Lucas and Max, and it was clear from the conversation that Sadie Sink (who plays Max) was very uncomfortable about the idea of kissing on camera. It really seemed like bullying to me—and it wasn’t just the adults who were involved, either.
It’s also unfortunate that there were some cast members who weren’t available for the show. At least a few had pre-recorded comments (played on an old TV, naturally), but Winona Ryder doesn’t even appear at all. And Linnea Berthelsen, who plays Kali, appears in one episode along with some of the new characters from season two, but it felt like a lot of the conversation focused on Billy and Max instead of Kali, so we don’t get to hear from her as much. I also would have loved more from David Harbour (who plays Hopper), because his relationship with Eleven in this season is really powerful and one of the things that really drives the story.
It was interesting to me the way that the Duffer Brothers have been able to shift gears and make changes to characters and the story based on the actors—for instance, the way Steve (Joe Keery) developed in the second season wasn’t necessarily the way they had intended from the start, and they mention a few things about Will (Noah Schnapp) and his connection to the Mind Flayer that changed as they worked through the episodes.
Although really what you want is another season of Stranger Things, this little peek behind the curtain is worth it for fans of the show, and may help tide you over until we find out what’s next.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, and receive access to Netflix for coverage purposes. Opinions are my own.