The latest Netflix series most likely to prevent you from doing your homework, Stranger Things, has created a cultural phenomenon that is for a lack of a better word, strange. The show blends horror and childlike wonder with 1980s nostalgia. Bingeing has never felt so retro.
Set in the ‘80s, Stranger Things should really tailor to an older audience, but the real surprise is that teens make up a large part of the show’s viewers. The “perfect” high school romance, a silly kids show, and a horror movie with a predictable ending can get tiring, but Stranger Things puts a twist on them that other shows can’t touch.
Creators Matt and Ross Duffer had the idea to create a show based on conspiracy theories in the ‘80s. They also wanted to reach the Stephen Spielberg movie awe and the Stephen King novel spooky-effect, which they clearly achieved with the uniqueness of the show entirely.
The parents had to put a lot of trust in their kids that they would make it home on time and safely from their friend’s house, but for Will Byers, announced missing in episode one, this was simply not the case. The spiral of worrying and intensity, from friend to mother to cop to even the government, sets the story up perfectly; the mere idea of a child missing is unbearable for such a small, peaceful town.
The love for Will comes automatically. He had the kindest heart and although viewers only saw him for a little part of the first episode, it does not mean that they were not dying to find out where he was and what happened to him.
The never-ending support from his three friends, Dustin, Lucas and Mike, as well as his mother and brother has everyone even more concerned.
The mysterious new girl, Eleven, who is all over the promos on Netflix, brings the show to a new level of danger and fun with her supernatural abilities.
When it was first revealed that El did have powers, it was chilling. A little girl who seemed so weak and helpless demonstrating such rage and power sets a new perspective on her and makes you intrigued on her next possible move.
Her character development since then has been very exciting to watch, as her adjustment to the real world was just as crazy as the monsters. It was interesting to watch her grow through the span of the season, from learning control, friendship, and the extreme danger in things.
The group of kids are reminiscent of the characters in the movies E.T. and The Goonies , and also borrow elements from Stephen King’s It (not the new movie) because of how the kids interact. With the bike rides back and forth to each other’s houses to the throwback board games, the four kids are a reflection of ‘80s children. Blending horror and other genres has proven difficult recently, through shows like MTV’s Scream or Teen Wolf for trying to emphasize one element rather than a balance, but Stranger Things does it effortlessly with great, realistic, child actors and atmosphere.
Thanks to the setting of Hawkins, Ind., it is quite easy to feel immersed in the town. From the clothes the characters wear, to the things that they do, you are immediately pulled in. As an added bonus, you can watch with parents so they can reminisce about their childhoods.
Nostalgia is a key factor in what makes Stranger Things a success for the older audience. What really hit the soft spot in people are the characters and the main idea of it all. The persistence in all the kids, families and cops to find Will is admirable. The fun encounters they face such as monsters on their way bring Will home reaches the show to a new level.