The problem with launching the second season of a massively successful show that captured the fascination of not just genre lovers but binge-watchers across the world? You've literally got all eyes on you, which means Stranger Things can't just bring its A-game to the table for its second season... it has to bring so much more.
Overall, critics are generally positive about the the new installment in the series, noting that while it struggled to get off the ground at first, it achieved the same level of suspense and masterful storytelling as Season 1.
"The problem with a show getting bigger is that some character arcs get smaller — and occasionally sloppier," Variety's Maureen Ryan says. "But once you get past the clunky first few installments — which largely restate much of what occurred last season and set up plot points that were easily inferred from the trailers — the drama's momentum picks up noticeably."
The slow start was a sentiment other critics noted as well.
"The first few chapters may have some tablesetting slowness, but they have strong cliffhangers pushing from one episode to the next, building to a breathless finale," Daniel Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter says. "In the ways that count, there's no sophomore slump for Stranger Things."
It's also safe to say that you should prepare yourself for a near overdose of '80s culture in the new season, which for some will be thoroughly enjoyable, but for others will feel a little over the top. From fashion to politics, the Duffer brothers tried their hardest to cash in on the nostalgia element that hooked people from the start.
"Stranger Things 2 is still engaging throughout," Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson says, "...and features plenty of charming performances. Though the early-mid-'80s world of the series is perhaps a bit too over-articulated this season, things still look good, all earth-toned, autumnal, and wistful, in their way."
If you aren't sensing a pattern here, we'll go ahead and point it out to you. The critics had small problems. They did not, however, have problems that outweighed their craving for the show, nor did these problems diminish the magic that Stranger Things managed to somehow recreate with the next chapter of the story. That's reinforced around the TV Guide offices, where those who have seen the entire season are buzzing more positively about it.
It sounds like so long as you keep your expectations in check (and realize that you're never going to get Barb back, please just leave it alone) you're sure to enjoy the second season of Stranger Things just as much as the first.
Season 2 of Stranger Things drops Friday on Netflix.