This past summer, Netflix debuted the first season of its new sci-fi drama, Stranger Things, which features an Amblin-style kid-focused adventure, a heavy dose of '80s nostalgia, and horror inspired by the likes of John Carpenter and Stephen King. Stranger Things quickly gained favor with the streaming service's users and became one of Netflix's most popular original series. In the months since the show's premiere, Netflix announced season 2 of Stranger Things will arrive next year -- and reports claim multiple seasons are planned.
The first season of Stranger Things followed the town of Hawkins, Indiana, during the fall of 1983 after a local boy, Will Byers, disappeared. As his mother teamed up with the local police chief to find Will, his friends discovered a mysterious girl in the woods -- and uncovered she has telekinetic powers linked to a mysterious dimension they call the Upside Down and a creature known as the Demogorgon. Although Will is rescued in the season 1 finale, things don't quite go back to normal in Hawkins. Now, a new parody deals with the aftermath from season 1.
A new animated short [above] created by Leigh Lahav and Oren Mendez combines Stranger Things with the classic style of Charlie Brown for "Merry Christmas Will Byers." In the short, Will is dealing with the crippling anxiety of returning to life with his friends and family after his time in the Upside Down. As Dustin -- acting as the Linus to Will's Charlie Brown -- says, "Will Byers, you’re the only person I know who can be rescued from a mysterious paranormal universe and still find a way to feel crummy about it."
The short additionally includes Lucas as one of Will's friends, Eleven as Lucy in her psychiatric help stand, Mike Wheeler as the piano-playing Schroeder (featuring the Stranger Things theme song), and the Demogorgon as Snoopy. Also appearing in the short are Peanuts-style Nancy Wheeler and Steve Harrington during the dance scene, with a nod to Will's mother Joyce via unintelligible adult-speak -- and a cameo by Barb, who gets the iconic Charlie Brown line, "Good grief."
Certainly, "Merry Christmas Will Byers" doesn't necessarily offer much in the way of insight into Stranger Things, but it does go to show how popular the Netflix series has become that this animated short is one of many parodies, pop culture jokes, or 8-bit recreations that have arisen since season 1 debuted. Netflix has even capitalized on Stranger Things' popularity with its recent Netflix Kitchen videos.
Considering how quickly Stranger Things has invaded pop culture, it's safe to say the series has a high bar for season 2 -- which creators Matt and Ross Duffer have been working on since before season 1 premiered. Little is known about season 2 aside from the fact that Hawkins will be welcoming a handful of new characters. But, Stranger Things will undoubtedly deal with the fallout from season 1 and Will's time in the Upside Down just as "Merry Christmas Will Byers" suggests -- though it will likely play out with a little less Christmas cheer.
Stranger Things season 1 is now available on Netflix. Season 2 is currently in production and is expected to arrive in 2017.