Stranger Things fans around the world have cried out in disappointment this week, as showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer have announced that everyone’s favorite Eighties nostalgia horror show probably won’t live past four seasons.
Assuming the show stays at the same length per season of eight episodes a pop, that means there’ll only be thirty two episodes of Stranger Things in total when everything is said and done. That’s about a season and a half of The Walking Dead, or approximately half a week’s binge-watching for when you want to revisit the whole show in years to come.
But while this may sound like a bad thing, it’s important to remember that quantity does not always go hand in hand with quality.
Shorter seasons are increasingly the way television is going – just look at Game of Thrones, as we come to the end of the shortest season thus far, and anticipate an even shorter final season in the distant future.
The focus for television producers at the moment is on making high quality entertainment without wasting audiences’ time on filler episodes and empty moments. Gone are the days of TV showrunners being forced to pad out a season to stretch it to twenty episodes – instead, we get something exciting happening in every single episode.
So, fine, Stranger Things isn’t going to suddenly balloon into a huge show simply to try and squeeze all possible ratings out of its popularity. But why is it only going to stick around for four seasons?
Well, for one thing, the Duffer Brothers don’t want the show to wear out its welcome. There’s only so much that can be done with the premise before it gets ridiculously convoluted, and trying to use up all of the show’s goodwill by stretching its premise on to endless seasons of content will end up leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.
It’s hard not to think of Lost at this point – a promising show which, if it had been a short series told over a couple of seasons, would be remembered a lot more fondly. Instead, things dragged on and on to the point that audiences didn’t care, especially when it became clear that JJ Abrams was simply making stuff up as he went along in order to justify whatever nonsense was being thrown onto the screen that particular week.
If Stranger Things already has a set ending in place, then the show’s writers, directors, and actors are going to be able to work their way towards that point. It’s rare for a TV show to have a set end point in mind, and with the proper time to prepare, the show’s direction can be built around leading us organically to a satisfying conclusion for the adventures.
Having four short seasons of Stranger Things means absolutely no filler, and that’s great – part of the reason why season one works so well is that it’s a tight, focused narrative that essentially plays out more like a long movie than a weekly show.
So while it’s tough to think that we’re a quarter of the way through Stranger Things already (and we’ll be half way through come October), the good news is that a mere four seasons of the show means there’s a better chance of the story maintaining its quality and pacing throughout.
Besides, Stranger Things or no, with David Harbour as the new Hellboy and Millie Bobby Brown appearing in the next Godzilla, it’s not like we’ll be saying goodbye to these actors any time soon.