Stranger Things returns July 4 to a warm reception from critics for its new season. The first reviews out propelled the season 3 to Certified Fresh status within the day on Sunday, in one of the fastest designations in Rotten Tomatoes’ history.
The series sets its third season in the summer, starting out all warm breezes, sunny skies, baking skin, splashing pools, and young romance. But this is Hawkins, Indiana, and stranger things lurk beneath that veneer of ’80s suburban normalcy.
Cue the Netflix series’ Goonies-like crew: supernatural Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Will (Noah Schnapp), Max (Sadie Sink), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Steve (Joe Keery).
Parents and other siblings also return, including scene-stealing Priah Ferguson as Lucas’ sister Erica, Dacre Montgomery as Max’s bully brother Billy, and, of course, Winona Ryder as Will and Jonathan’s mom Joyce and David Harbour as police chief Jim Hopper, who last season adopted the role as Eleven’s father in attachment if not legally. In season 3, their bond is stronger than ever.
See what critics had to say about Stranger Things: Season 3 (2019) 90% below.
“Reliable, durable and comfortable, ST3 is what you’d expect and certainly what you want, if what you “want” is seasons 1 and 2, with a few big twists along the way.” — Verne Gay, Newsday
“Our heroes are not the goofy young kids they used to be. The third series realigns and reconfigures them in new combinations and allegiances.” — Suzi Feay, Financial Times
“Though there are signs that Stranger Things is on the verge of slowing down (one-note villains, the missing feeling of an unearthed ’80s treasure), that’s not happening yet in Season 3.” — Tim Surette, TV Guide
“Stranger Things finally becomes the sort of extravagant, exceedingly ambitious adventure spectacle that would have ruled the theaters during the ’80s, instead of a TV series merely obsessed with films from that decade.” — Kevin Yeoman, ScreenRant
“On the evidence of this plodding and predictable third season, the Duffers can’t skip town soon enough.” — Ed Power, Daily Telegraph (UK)
“It harnesses a Big Summer Mood, a healthy heap of nostalgia and has plenty of fun references. But its story is also convoluted and far too scattered.” — Allison Keene, Paste Magazine
“It’s a thin imitation of what we used to have, who could blame anyone for clinging to it?” — Judy Berman, TIME Magazine
“Season 3 balances good-natured laughs with charming nostalgia through likable characters doing battle against looming horrors. Yet it feels like it’s propping up its past to justify its present.” — Brandon Katz, Observer
“Despite its rocky start, the creators and performers find a way to pull off the impossible and deliver the best season yet, all while honoring their loyal fan base and challenging them to want more from a series known for playing it safe.” — Patrick Cavanaugh, ComicBook.com
“By doubling down on relationship stories, Season 3 of Stranger Things delivers an oft-charming, deeper-than-expected, and ultimately enjoyable new chapter.” — Ben Travers, indieWire