Like 'Stranger Things One,' but misremembered. Holiday lights become white-papered walls; Will's felt absence becomes Will's absent presence; Barb becomes Bob. In this way, the show is about the disorientation of growing up. It seems to ask, 'Am I who I was before? Will my inner selves expand? Do I still like nougat as much as I did before?'
Following up on a blockbuster debut is always a difficult task, and it's made even more difficult by the retention--with a few exceptions--of the main plot line and almost all the characters. In the case of Eleven, I understand why the Brothers Duffer felt it necessary to bring her back, but it actually results in a more scattershot and unfocused narrative (and unless Eight returns, a meaningless detour). Not as fun.
The things I enjoyed so much in the first season that are lacking here are compensated by a more epic and engrossing storyline. Apart from the bland first episode and the sappy and formulaic seventh, the episodes seemed to have the same or more quality. A reinforced emotional strength and the new characters added a lot.