Just because you’ve finished binge-watching all of Stranger Things season 3 doesn’t mean you’re out of new Stranger Things content to consume. Netflix is here to keep on providing you with even more Stranger Things, this time in the form of a podcast.
Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3 is a new podcast dedicated to, you guessed it, the making of Stranger Things season 3. The first episode, out now on all podcast streaming platforms, takes fans deep into the most elaborate set that the Netflix series has ever created: The Starcourt Mall. It wasn’t just a set — the mall became so central to the plot of season 3 that the first half-hour podcast is all about what it took to make the perfect ’80s mall, how it affected costumes and plot and more.
But if you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, EW rounded up all the biggest Easter egg reveals from the first episode.
1. The Starcourt Mall is an actual mall. The Duffer Brothers found a real mall near Atlanta that has two stories and almost 40 stores that helped shape the look, feel, and story of the season.
“Last year we’d had an arcade and it didn’t really figure in into the plot in a major way,” Matt Duffer says. “We always regretted that because it was such a cool location when we saw it. We know that Chris [Trujillo], our production designer and Jess [Royal], our set dec[orator], they’re going to make this incredible gorgeous mall, we’ve got to make sure we’re going to be in there a lot. So the plot needs to somehow revolve around the mall.”
2. Turning back the clock to make the modern Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Georgia, look like it was set in the ’80s was actually easier than the art department thought. The mall had actually opened in 1984 so it already had the right bones for the era. Trujillo and Royal found a binder with old photos of the mall and actually discovered a picture of the atrium when it first opened. They ended up remodeling the mall to look the same for filming.
3. Every store had to be fully decorated and redone to fit into the ’80s, even though most of them were never shown onscreen. All the work that Royal put into recreating candle shop Wicks and Sticks was never actually seen. But that doesn’t matter to her because she got such a kick out of diving deep into the history of stores like Wicks and Sticks.
“My vision was realized in Wicks and Sticks and it’s such a weird store anyway, like Yankee Candle but weirder,” Royal says. “The wood and the color tones and the macramé and candles but all the sculpture candles, like ribbons of wax and stuff. I had someone make those for us. To create a whole store of them was very special.”
4. Making the Starcourt Mall turned out to be the biggest set design challenge the team has faced in all three seasons.
“It was so exhausting,” art director Sean Brennan says. “Finally knowing that we had made it, it was just like, f— me. It was 16 weeks of like extreme pressure and fear and worry and hoping that you got it right and we did. We got it right.”
5. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Max’s (Sadie Sink) shopping spree helped evolve both characters while finally leaning in to the more feminine and fun aspects of ’80s fashion. And it turns out that Brown herself was actually a major influence on Eleven’s makeover.
“What would a girl who was so sheltered and living on in a cabin wear when she gets out into the real world and gets to go to the mall and buy her own clothes?” Costume designer Amy Parris says. “[Brown] was the one that I felt like I relied on the most to tell me how [Eleven] felt. We’d try on stuff and there were things that she didn’t love and we used that in the montage. The way she reacts to the clothing is how she really felt about the clothes.”
6. All those food court uniforms were accurate for the time period. And some were actually really from the ’80s!
“People still sell them,” Parris says of the actual fast food company uniforms. “We were able to buy two full sets and a third shirt and we made pants to match so we had three original Burger King uniforms. We reached out to Hot Dog on a Stick because they were at the mall and they were in the food court. They were so excited to give us uniforms; in fact, they remade the shirts. They supplied us with the actual uniforms which was really helpful and really nice.”
7. Making Steve (Joe Keery) get a job in the food court was more than just a funny sign of how far he’d fallen in the popularity food chain. It was also yet another nod to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, where Judge Reinhold’s character also worked at a nautical themed restaurant.
“You wanted it to be demeaning for Steve. He’s in the sailor suit for the entire season, basically!” writer Paul Dichter says. “I love Steve as a character. It’s been really fun watching him go through this transformation over the course of three seasons. When we started talking about Steve in season 1, he was the jock jerk boyfriend. We thought of him as that trope, as the archetype of that asshole. Seeing what Joe was doing with the part, very quickly we realized we wanted to do more with him.”
8. That Scoops Ahoy hat is really thanks to Keery. Just like Brown, Keery also had some say about his character’s look this season when it came to picking between two dorky sailor hats for his work uniform.
“Joe really liked the white dixie cup hat, the Duffers liked it, and as much as I liked the nerdy blue flat pancake style I think it was the right choice to go with the white,” Parris says. “It was just a little step too nerdy and weird.”
9. And we need to talk about that scooper holster, because it turns out that was also all Keery.
“What he has added to his uniform is an ice cream holster that is red fabric,” Parris says. “It was Joe’s idea and I thought it was a great idea. We had our tailors make a little holster out of red canvas fabric.”
Stranger Things season 3 is now streaming in full on Netflix. Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3 is produced by Netflix and Pineapple St. Media. You can listen to it here or on Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio and wherever else podcasts are available.
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