The big problem facing the showrunners of Stranger Things is the same problem facing parents across the world: kids grow up too fast.
The plan for future seasons of the hit show has always been to film the cast, year by year, as they grow up and mature. The Duffer Brothers have previously referred to this as a desire to replicate the Harry Potter movie formula.
The problem is that the teens who make up the backbone of the show are all at various stages of hitting puberty, and it’s making planning the show difficult. It’s hard to sell some of these kids as thirteen or fourteen year olds when their voices have broken, their beards are growing in, and they’re getting ever taller.
According to co-showrunner Ross Duffer, some stars, such as Caleb McLaughlin, who plays, Lucas, are already getting way too old to play kids any more:
“It will have to be somewhat of a time gap, because the kids are, I mean, they already look so much older. No matter what we want to do, I remember when we were originally talking about Season 2, we wanted to just start it in Christmas and just go from there, but then we realized the kids are just too old, so we had to jump forward. Even the latest trailer, we had to loop a line with Caleb. He sounds like a man now. It creeps me out. He’s going to be driving to set next year.”
Stranger Things was never meant to be this big of a hit, and originally Matt and Ross Duffer didn’t think too hard about what their actors would look like in years to come. Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers, was eleven when the first season was shot, but the rest of his friends were actually several years older – a decision that’s come back to haunt the show now that they look significantly older than Will.
Because of this, the brothers have stated that the next time the show returns, it’ll do so with a larger time leap than we got the first time. Instead of being set in 1985, a year after season two’s adventure, the show will jump a few more years into the future.
So what does this mean for the story?
If the Duffer Brothers stick to their Harry Potter plans, we’ll probably get a far darker season of the show. Imagine, for example, skipping from Chamber of Secrets to watching The Half Blood Prince. Suddenly, everything seems far more grim and depressing, as the key characters have all grown into more complicated bags of teenage angst.
This is to say nothing of the power of hormones. In the episodes of Stranger Things we’ve seen thus far, we’ve only seen the kids beginning to grapple with romantic feelings. A jump forward in time will see everyone suddenly a lot more focused on the opposite sex.
Heck, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is an apt example again. In Chamber of Secrets, the story’s heroes are all a bit awkward when it comes to hugs, but by the later movie, they’re embroiled in drama, love triangles, and incredibly awkward moments of hyper-charged sexual tension.
Don’t be surprised if season three’s Mike and Eleven end up acting like season one’s Nancy and Steve. The cute kids are growing up, and with that comes icky teenage romance.