Stranger Things season 3: Hello 1985, sizzling reviews and an emotional coming-of-age story – Three reasons why the Netflix drama is the must-watch show of the summer

The TV phenomenon is back for its biggest and most bad-ass season yet – we round up why this has to be number one on your binge-list this year.

It’s been three years since Stranger Things first landed on Netflix and captivated an entire generation with its love letter to the 1980s, Dungeons and Dragons-playing school kids and mysterious mix of government cover-ups and chilling supernatural forces.

A second season followed in Halloween 2017, bringing fresh frights, more secrets and an even bigger and more terrifying force from the dark Upside Down world.

[Stranger Things: How to watch season 3]

[Stranger Things: What time is it released in the UK]

The series has inspired pages and pages of Reddit fan theories, turned its previously unknown young cast into global superstars and made us all dig out our 80s record collections and some seriously dodgy fashions choices from the bottom of our wardrobes.

If all of this wasn’t already reason enough to watch Stranger Things season 3 as soon as it lands on July 4th, here are three more…

1. The red hot reviews

Stranger Things season 3

The ending for season two was fairly conclusive with Eleven sealing up the gate and the happy ending of the Snow Ball at Hawkins Middle School.

We all saw that the Upside Down and Mind Flayer were still looming over (or should that be underneath?) Hawkins, but season three was always going to have to reset the show for its third adventure.

However, any fans nervous about the show’s return can rest easy. The critics are united to declaring the latest season the most thrilling yet.

Slash Film said that the new season "roars back more exciting and emotional than ever".

USA Today said: "The series builds upon its Steven Spielberg and Stephen King influences with an homage to alien invasion and zombie films, creating a genuinely terrifying (and really rather disgusting) new threat."

Bloody Disgusting wrote: "The nostalgia is perfection, as are all of those nods and homages to '80s classics we hold dear.

"Stranger Things 3 delivers the requisite holiday fireworks and then some.

"Above all, it leaves you with that joyous feeling of serious anticipation for what comes next."

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone declared: "Netflix's Eighties-set supernatural series returns bigger and badder, with the action shifting to summertime and the teens of Hawkins going through changes."

[Stranger Things: Meet the cast and characters]

2. 1985 – one summer can change everything

Stranger Things season 3

It was the year that New Coke launched, Live Aid took place in the UK and USA and in cinemas we got such classics as Weird Science, The Goonies, The Breakfast Club and most significantly of all, Back to the Future.

We’ve already seen from the trailers for season 3 that the Starcourt Mall has opened in Hawkins along with ice cream parlour Scoops Ahoy and we’re certain that both will enable the show to unleash a furry of 80s nostalgia.

3. Beautifully drawn romances, bromances and friendships blossom

Stranger Things season 3

The supernatural horrors, sci-fi mysteries and nods to the 1980s are fantastic flourishes in Stranger Things, but the beating heart of the show is the dynamics and relationships between the cast members.

The what-might-have-been looks between Joyce and Hopper, Mike and Eleven’s Romeo and Juliet-style romance against the odds, the brotherly love of Johnathan and Will, Lucas and Max’s classic coming-of-age flirtations and Steve and Dustin’s odd couple act are just a handful of the sub-plots that make the series so special.

As the Hawkins crew head towards the cusp of adulthood in season 3 and face the struggles of growing up and growing apart, these relationships are only going to grow more special, more emotional and more important to the magic of Stranger Things.

Stranger Things season three is streaming now on Netflix.

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