Ok, it's time for me to attempt to articulate why Stranger Things
got me to watch the entire first season in 1 sitting and has had me wanting to squeal out loud for the last week.Stranger Things
is the latest Netflix Original to drop. It's a gothic horror series set in a small town in 1983 feature scrappy teenaged monster hunters, evil government scientists and conspiracies, an androgynous psychic kid, teenaged douches and preadolescent bullies, shortwave radio and walkie talkies providing communications to other dimensions, people in other dimensions using lightbulbs to communicate with our world, and D&D loving kids who like to ride their bikes all over town, and a missing child. Winona Ryder was heavily put forth as a lead character, and with good season. Her name alone makes you think of 80s and 90s pop culture hits, and this is her first major role in years. She more than lives up to the hype, but while she plays one of the major characters and is one of the two most central adult characters (the other being David Harbour's sheriff Hopper) but the main focus of the series skews more to wards the teen and preteen characters.
The thing about Stranger Things
that makes me love it is that it's a nostalgia show that isn't actually nostalgic. By which I mean, most nostalgia shows and movies are very aware of the nostalgia and are looking back on the nostalgic period, and the narrative itself has some awareness of the fact that it's looking back at a previous time period. Stranger Things
doesn't do that. Instead of looking back on the 80s and drawing from them, it completely immerses itself in the 80s. It uses similar camera angles to 80s movies, the credits are 80s credits, everyone sacrifices their heads to poofs and mops, plaid and jackets are everywhere, and the soundtrack isn't "inspired by" the 80s or simply using 80s songs, it actually IS an 80s soundtrack. The only way it could possibly be more 80s than it already is would be if they were to reveal that it secretly IS an 80s show that has been amazingly remastered. Kids able to ride their bikes home at night without supervision? NORMAL. "BECAUSE COMMUNISM" to explain things? YEAH WE KNOW. Tabletop D&D games that have an entire basement devoted to them? WHAT KID DOESN'T HAVE IT? Having to go to a store to get things printed off? HOW ELSE WOULD YOU GET THEM IF YOU AREN'T RICH? Off the top of my head, the only real nod to an awareness that the show isn't taking place in the time it's set in is that some technology that is now obsolete or has changed so much that it's unrecognizable in its form from 30 years ago gets explained, but it gets explained to people who would have a logical reason not to be familiar with it. It's nostalgic because it crams every trope and reference to 80s (and sometimes 90s) horror, scifi and kid adventure movie in that it can, but it approaches it as "that's what people like to watch these days" not "these are what the oldies that were popular then" were like.
(Spoilers past this point, largely for the pilot, and things very heavily implied in the pilot)( cut for length and spoilers )
YMMV with all of that. If you like 80s stuff, gothic horror, small town mysteries or Adventurous Kids and Teens, then you'll probably like the show. I don't know if Netflix has made any announcement yet for a second season, but it has an open ending that both wraps things up in a way I found satisfying, and gives strong hints about what the second season will be about, if there is one.