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It was the series to watch. It was the topic to tweet. And it was the Halloween costume to wear. Netflix’s Stranger Things dominated the globe in 2016. “It’s really permeated the culture,” says David Harbour, who plays tortured town sheriff Hopper. “People love the characters so much, and they have such an emotional response.” A hodgepodge homage of ’80s classics like The Goonies, E.T., and It, Things, created by twin brothers Ross and Matt Duffer, won over fans with its tale of a small Indiana town rocked by the opening of an interdimensional portal and the arrival of a mysterious super-powered girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).
Things garnered critical acclaim — including a SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series — generated massive internet conversation (dispatched supporting character Barb landed her own hashtag, #JusticeForBarb), and launched its young, unknown cast into worldwide stardom. Says Brown, “I went to Manila last year; there were people camping outside the hotel, crying, and literally hyperventilating. I was like, ‘Why do you like me so much? I’m just boring old Millie.’ ” Quips Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin, “I always joke around with the Duffers, ‘Why couldn’t you make the first season just okay?’ It’s like how they never expected Barb to be a hit — they never expected the show to be as successful.”
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Now the Things cast and crew need to live up to all the hype when they return in October. “That is the new challenge of season 2: quieting the cultural noise that surrounds our show,” admits executive producer Shawn Levy (Arrival). Still, the Duffers are confident that they’ve crafted a worthy successor to the first season. “It’s a balance of the comfort you’re familiar with but then trying to take it in new directions,” says Ross Duffer. “That’s what we’re trying to strike with season 2.” They’re also working hard to keep the majority of these Stranger developments under wraps. Despite having security tighter than Hawkins National Laboratory, this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly has your exclusive first look at the top secret Stranger Things 2.