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Does 'Stranger Things' Need a Hubris Check?

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Let me take you back to the strange and distant time of May 2022. Memorial Day weekend, actually. Stranger Things was about to drop the first volume of its fourth season, marking the first time we had seen the series in three years. And... we... didn't really know what we were getting into! The series had declined in quality since its first season charmed us into wanting to start a Dungeons and Dragons club. We were, in a word, apprehensive.

What a difference two months makes, huh? Doja Cat is strategizing how to slide in Joseph Quinn's DMs, Kate Bush is topping the charts, and Season Five is shaping up to nab so many streams that Netflix splits like an Upside-Down crack through Hawkins. That's all to say—after an incredible Volume Two finale this past June, Stranger Things is back on top. Which is why the news I'm about to report feels a little strange. This story starts with—what else?—a TikTok. The TikTok in question alleges that the Duffer Brothers edited Season One, Episode Two of the series. The original cut of the show, which only exists on some old DVD waiting to be dug up, reportedly sees Jonathan being a perv and snapping pictures of Nancy in her underwear. Now, if you watch back the episode, you see Jonathan looking at an about-to-be-eaten Barb (RIP) near a pool, and, later, Steve destroying his camera. No creepy pics. For what it's worth, I can't find the alleged creepy version on YouTube. Is this a Mandela theory thing?

It might be⁠, because we're getting conflicting reports from the Stranger Things team. Check out the below tweet from the Stranger Things writers, where the crew wrote, "PSA: no scenes from previous seasons have ever been cut or re-edited. And they never will be." Which would all be well and fine, except the series' creators, the Duffer Brothers, have totally contradicted this. Matt Duffer told Variety, “It doesn’t make any narrative sense," referring to a later continuity error in the show, regarding Will's birthday. "But we were talking about it yesterday, and I think we’re going to George Lucas that,” he added, referring to the Star Wars director retroactively tweaking his own work. “We have George Lucas’d things also that people don’t know about.”

I've gotta say, I'm confused. The George Lucas reference is a strange self-own. The man drank his own Kool-Aid, editing and amending his work so much that it's a punchline nowadays. It's almost as if Stranger Things had a resurgence—which is partially due to a write-around that tells us who was really behind the Upside Down all along—and developed a certain level of hubris. Which, apparently, gives them license to edit and change their own work, without much transparency for the people who watch Stranger Things. (Or write it?) Sure, we don't know if the Jonathan moment actually went down the way fans are claiming it did, but the Duffers literally admitted to amending the show. Stranger Things went through a slump! Own it, enjoy the ride, and worry about the final season. It'll be OK. I promise.

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