One of the first things you notice about Stranger Things creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, is that they definitely do twin things. They finish each other’s sentences. They switch roles seamlessly, they communicate without words. At times, it can seem like they share a brain, “that weird telepathic relationship,” as he described it. Winona Ryder, a star of the series, because they rarely seem to disagree, at least not verbally. When they write, they do so in front of each other and in a shared document. M.Night Shyamalan, one of his early mentors and collaborators, affectionately described the phenomenon as seeing a “two-headed creative monster.” For me it’s crazy.
Still, they insist they would never want to isolate themselves in a writing booth together. “It could end in a double murder, or just a murder,” Matt says with a laugh.
Judging by the way they worked together on stranger thingswhich yesterday premiered the first part of its fourth and penultimate season, having two heads was a blessing as deadlines rushed by. It had been three years of his season 3 and Netflix had not yet announced that it had hemorrhaged subscribers, but there was a feeling in the editing suite that the stakes were high in this return of the drama that has won seven emmy awards since its debut in 2016.
With the competition gaining ground, Netflix needed a big hit. Y stranger thingsas Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told me, is “probably the largest and longest lasting content brand that we have created.” That was the same day the company lost about $50 billion of its market value.
During the two days that I observed them, the Duffers, who continue to direct, write and supervise stranger thingsThey had enough. The pandemic had caused significant delays and the new season is five hours longer than any of the previous ones. That was the main reason they decided to release it in two parts, Ross said. The season 4 volume 2 It will arrive on July 1.
With episodes like short films —the shortest of the seven released lasts 63 minutes; the longest, 98—one might worry that the Duffers have succumbed to excess. For now, they seem content to let the fans decide; Netflix has shown a willingness to support his expanding vision. Meanwhile, the tone is changing this season (think Nightmare deep in the night Y The pact), and its young cast shaves for at least a few years.
Many things can change in three years, including the attention of the spectators. Will fans continue to flock to stranger things?
the road traveled
The story of the Duffer brothers
If the Duffers seemed to come out of nowhere when the now famous sequence of stranger things opening it’s because, somehow, they had. They had written a few scripts, directed a few shorts, and made a feature film that never made it to theaters.
But if little else is known about them today it is not for lack of appetite. With few exceptions, the Duffers have kept their involvement with the press to a minimum. Unlike the teenage cast members —Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo and so on—they are rarely stopped on the street.
The brothers prefer it that way. “There’s a reason we’re behind the camera: that’s where we feel most comfortable,” Ross said as he ate pizza after a long morning of rendering and color grading. “We love the part of making a show, the process, and not so much everything else,” added Matt.
In 2011, just four years after finishing film school at Chapman University in California, the brothers sold a script to Warner Bros. for a post-apocalyptic thriller called hidden. Suddenly, the Duffers had a true Hollywood budget.
The film, about a family trapped underground while shadowy creatures roam the surface, establishes familiar themes for any Stranger Things fan: a precocious child, government conspiracies, a rat that explodes. What he didn’t have, the studio decided, was commercial viability. He went straight to video in 2015.
Matt and Ross thought their career was over, but then the script came to Shyamalan, who was impressed and hired them to write the Fox drama. Wayward Pines. His confidence helped get them back on track. soon followed stranger things.
Early reviews argued that the series was little more than ’80s karaoke, a greatest hits collection that charms but lacks the genius of the original art. Matt and Ross have never been shy about their influences: their original pitch described the series “as if steven spielberg I was directing a soap opera Stephen King long lost,” Ross said.
The Duffers are now expected to join Spielberg as executive producers on the Netflix series. Talismana long-awaited adaptation of the novel co-written by King.
The Duffers don’t deny the many tributes to their influences, “but at a certain point,” Ross added, “you just have to figure out how to tell this story and tell it well.”
the final stretch
Heading to the end of “Stranger Things”
Winona Ryderwho plays the character of Joyce, is blunt about what stranger things meant to her: “It changed my life completely.”
In the season 4Joyce, single mother of Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathon (charlie heaton) who has hosted raise (Brown), remains central as she tries to make a fresh start in Southern California, still mourning the loss of her beloved Hopper (David Harbor). Fans already know from the trailer released in 2020 that Hopper is alive in a Russian prison camp.
“In all honesty, I don’t think there would be this kind of incredible warmth that I’ve felt without this series,” he said.
Everyone I interviewed from the production called the Duffers generous, hard-working, and unassuming. That has been important, the young cast members said, to foster an environment in which they can thrive. For a group of actors who became very famous as children, they seem exceptionally well balanced.
The season 4 will be the penultimate of the show, which means you have to have the characters and themes well positioned for the denouement.
The long delay due to the covid pandemic gave Duffer and its writers a lot of time to figure out where they wanted the story to end. Now it’s up to the fans to start unveiling the farewell.
This is a cropped and edited version of the original note.