Stranger Things is a melting pot of elements that, when mixed together, produce brilliant results. It's an engaging, surprising mystery; a satisfyingly spooky story; a coming-of-age tale; a superhero flick; and a paean to the 1980s of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg et al.
Above all else, though, it's about its characters. This was true of the first year, and even more so after the brilliant Stranger Things 2. Even if the mystery had fallen flat or the monster wasn't creepy, the show would still soar higher than many others on the back of its characterisation alone.
Stranger Things balances its older teens and younger kids better than any series since the tragically short-lived Freaks and Geeks, with a fantastic array of performances of actors who would've slotted perfectly into the films of Spielberg, Rob Reiser, John Hughes and the rest they so expertly ape.
On top of that, there are some brilliant adult performances to anchor the series, led by the wonderful return of Winona Ryder and the late-rising star that is David Harbour.
Stranger Things 2 does many things right, including upping the stakes and going bigger and better than the first, and it also expands its cast and further develops its characters. The show doesn't make many missteps in this department, but some are much better than others.