Stranger Things Season 5 Needs To Address The Elephant In The Room

By Robert Scucci | Updated

Stranger Things Cast

Stranger Things is such a great series that it made me reassess how I watch television because I learned how watching eight nearly hour-long episodes in a row is something that my brain isn’t capable of absorbing. Now that I’ve learned to pace myself, I no longer binge-watch television, but rather space out my viewing because it’s a better experience, and I have Stranger Things to thank for that. On the production front, however, taking the slow approach isn’t the best look because by the time Stranger Things sees its season 5 premiere, we’re going to have a bunch of 20-year-olds (or older) playing high school freshmen.

Production Paused For A Good Reason

Stranger things Suzie Bingham

While production for Stranger Things Season 5 was delayed for good reason (WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes), the reality that we have to face is that time has been marching forward, aging the principal cast of the hit Netflix series significantly when compared to the series’ established timeline. As of this writing, Noah Schnapp is 19 years old, Millie Bobby Brown is 20, Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo are 21, and Caleb McLaughlin is 22. In the series, however, Will Byers, Eleven, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair are still high school freshmen.

Child Actors Are No Longer Children

Stranger Things

One thing I loved about Stranger Things when it premiered was that the casting was 100 percent on point; everybody looked the part. But as Stranger Things approaches season 5, we’re getting into Grease 2 territory.

For those of you who never had the displeasure of watching this ill-fated attempt at musical comedy, a 27-year-old Christopher McDonald portrayed Goose McKenzie, who was either held back in school by about 10 years, or the only high school student in existence developing crow’s feet and laugh lines due to the stress of having to break out in song and dance every five minutes.

De-Aging Technology Is An Option

Stranger Things

Season 4 of Stranger Things made use of de-aging technology that saw Millie Bobby Brown‘s face superimposed over an 8-year-old Martie Blair whenever we were met with a flashback sequence, and it worked because it was used sparingly. But if Stranger Things Season 5 is set in the universe’s present-day of 1986, de-aging the principal cast would not only be wildly impractical, but would probably strain the production budget in ways that would put the series’ financials in the red.

The problem is two-fold; viewers will have to either suspend disbelief in the face of a bunch of 20-somethings-playing kids who are supposed to be going through puberty or witness a level of deep-faking that would be distracting if done at this level.

Pushing The Timeline Forward

Stranger Things

Another possible (but still impractical) option would be to nudge the Stranger Things Season 5 timeline forward by a couple of years to address the aging issue. Putting the kids in their senior year of high school would certainly help close the gap, and de-aging technology could be used for flashbacks that fill us in on what happened between seasons 4 and 5. I personally think this would be the best approach because we can see what state of disrepair Hawkins, Indiana is in, not immediately after the events that transpired in season 4, but after some time has passed.

Why Nitpick The Age?

Stranger Things

I know I probably sound nit-picky by wanting to maintain a base-level of realism in a series about Demogorgons, Mind Flayers, The Upside Down, spider monsters, and an evil psychic humanoid named Vecna.

But when a series requires one to suspend so much disbelief to enjoy its storytelling (which I most certainly do), I still want its principal characters in Stranger Things Season 5 to remain true to form. We’re talking about regular kids (and Eleven) being thrust into extraordinary situations, and it’s the “regularness” that makes the series so relatable.

Otherwise, we’re just watching Beverly Hills, 90210 with demons.