Stranger Things has been an unqualified success for Netflix. Discussion of the '80s throwback sci-fi series has been ubiquitous on social media since its July premiere. Its critical approval is evidenced by its high Metacritic score.
And while Netflix doesn't disclose how many people watch their shows, third-party analytics firm Symphony Advanced Media estimates that 14.07 million viewers age 18-49 have watched the first eight episodes since they dropped July 15, making it the third-most-watched season of a Netflix original to premiere in the past year, ahead of big hits like Marvel's Daredevil and Making a Murderer. Only Season 1 of Fuller House and Season 4 of Orange Is the New Black got more streams, and both of those were established, heavily promoted shows, while Stranger Things pretty much came out of nowhere. The first season even basically promised a second season by ending on a cliff-hanger (no spoilers here, though!)
Stranger Things has earned a second season. So why hasn't Netflix renewed it yet?
That question came up during Netflix's presentation at the Television Critics Association fall previews last month. Creators the Duffer Brothers said they're ready, willing and able to keep going, with Matt Duffer telling reporters, "It's open ended in a way that if people wanted, and Netflix wanted, we could explore and continue this storyline." But Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said that Netflix wasn't ready to make that call yet.
"We always want to take some time to be thoughtful about the (renewal) process," Sarandos said. At the time, Stranger Things had only been out for about two weeks and Sarandos said that Netflix was focused on giving people time to digest Season 1 at that moment.
But it's been a month since he said that, and Netflix should have enough info to make a decision. Netflix and Stranger Things' production company 21 Laps both declined to comment on the status of Season 2 for this story, so we don't know for sure why it hasn't yet been renewed or even if it will be. But fans shouldn't worry, because Netflix has never not renewed a show for a second season.
That's right -- no Netflix original has been canceled after one season, not even the expensive and underwhelming Marco Polo, whose second season quietly premiered just two weeks before Stranger Things. In fact, since its first original series House of Cards premiered in 2013, Netflix has only canceled one series, the horror series Hemlock Grove, which got three seasons.
And it's not unprecedented for Netflix to take a while to announce a renewal. Last November, Marvel's Jessica Jones and Master of None both premiered to lots of positive buzz and earned presumably solid viewership. Jessica Jones' renewal came in January and Master of None wasn't picked up until February. Stranger Things outperformed both of those shows, according to Symphony Advanced Media.
The Duffer Brothers are already dropping hints about what the next season will look like, telling IGN that they'd like Season 2 to reflect its 1984 setting by being "weirder and darker," like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
And perhaps most tellingly, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings earlier this month said "we would be dumb not to" renew Stranger Things.
So if it's going to happen, why hasn't it happened yet?
It's possible that the show has already been renewed and Netflix is just waiting for the right time to announce it. Maybe the Duffer Brothers have already gotten to work writing Season 2 and Netflix is keeping it quiet to let them work in peace at their own pace and avoid the problems that plagued Daredevil's rushed, messy second season.
Or maybe the Duffer Brothers are asking for a lot more money now that they're hot and contract negotiations between the young filmmakers and Netflix are getting heated. But even if that's the case, Netflix is still going to pay up. Netflix may be more hesitant to shell out big bucks after the fiasco that was The Get Down's production, but Stranger Things is now a proven performer. People will stay subscribed to find out what happened to Eleven. And Netflix still has billions of dollars to spend on content.
So Stranger Things will happen again. It's just a matter of when.