80’s-centric sci-fi show with several kids under the age of 12 as the main characters? Yeah, didn’t really sound like my type of show either when I first started hearing rumblings about Stranger Things last summer. The Netflix-produced series dropped quietly in July, with little public promotion or fanfare. With Netflix, it seems like a majority of the shows rely on ‘word of mouth’ to garner attention, as the capabilities for advertising are obviously less than that of its HBO/AMC cohorts. It just so happened that I was coming off another television-high from the recent rousing season of everyone’s favorite Game of Thrones. I was in between shows, desperately looking for a binge-worthy excursion. As I was choosing between re-watching The Office for a tenth time, or Parks and Rec for a fifth time from the top, I decided to take my friend’s advice and check out a new program he had been incessantly raving about in the few days prior.
Again, on the surface, the general premise didn’t really move the needle too much for me. With respect to Winona Ryder (shoutout to Mr. Deeds), I also didn’t love the idea of jumping into a show that didn’t feature at least one or two big name actors. But after a couple episodes, I was locked in. None of the silly sci-fi storylines that I was skeptical of or the no-name child actors powering the show mattered. In fact, it only enhanced the viewing experience.
Stranger Things centers around a pre-teen group of boys who go searching for a friend, Will, who vanishes while heading home from a deliciously 1980’s “Dungeons & Dragons” session. While searching for the missing Will, the boys encounter a variety of events and people, including a mysterious young girl named “Eleven” who possess extreme psychokinetic powers. Eleven joins their crew and uses her other-worldly powers to help them track down their lost friend, all while fending off government-types focused on getting her back to the laboratory form which she came. With the help of Will’s mother/brother and some other kind citizens of the fictional Hawkins, Indiana, the crew exposes government corruption and battle extraterrestrial beings in this action-packed science fiction adventure.
The strength of the show lies in the production quality and technique. The show creators, the Duffer Brothers, clearly wanted to tell the story as an homage to similar coming-of-age tales in the past using an assortment of 1980s aesthetics. The background music employs heavy 80s-stylized synth riffs, and the dialogue, pop culture reference and clothing also closely reflects the time period. Being a 90s kid myself, I don’t have the same nostalgic feelings that older viewers had, but I appreciated it nonetheless. The series has real Goonies and ET vibes, which everyone should be able to get on board with. The acting in the show is fantastic, both from the adults and unknown child actors. The show is already renewed for a second season, and the cliff-hanger at the conclusion of the final episode has me counting down the days.
Season 2 of Stranger Things will be released in 2017 on Netflix.
Photo Credits – behance.net , theverge.com