*This article contains spoilers for Season 1 of Stranger Things, available on Netflix*
I’ll come out and admit it straight away. I’m not a kid of the 1980s. I wasn’t actually born until the year Jurassic Park hit theatre screens around the world. Yes, the first one (please don’t stop reading). I have however consumed a fair amount of filmography and television from before 1993, not least of which includes Star Wars, The Crow, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Looney Toons, Doctor Who, Mad Max, The Goonies and Back to the Future. Yes I know, none of these shows are similar to Stranger Things (maybe if you fused together The Goonies and Doctor Who you’d have something close). The original promotions I saw for Stranger Things left me a little indifferent and it was only upon my Wife’s suggestion (she’s a huge fan of horror and the supernatural) that we dived in to the series when our daughter was safe in bed.
I kind of owe her now. Stranger Things was fantastic and we blitzed through the sadly short eight episode series in just two nights. The story is a perfect mix of a lot of elements I’m really into. It was creepy and had a definite horror vibe without being ‘scary’, it was a coming of age story where one of the primary characters had ‘superpowers’ (yay comics) and it was full of shady government experiments and cover ups. Plus I could really relate to the three primary nerdy kids who for most of the series reference Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons. They’re kind of my people. The show at it’s core is fun to watch. It features great actors and actresses (including Winona Ryder), a great musical score and (if rumours are to be believed) they actually scanned 80s film grain to put over the footage. Could you get more dedication to the time period?
It isn’t just set in the 1980s, it embodies it. From the cinematography to the plot this is really nostalgic of the era (I have checked with older members of the family and can confirm this i.e. yes I asked my parents). The setting, a small town named Hawkins which is situated in Indiana USA and the 12 year old protagonists are straight out of Spielberg. In this example I guess Elven, the girl who they hide in their basement and who begins to exhibit strange telekinetic powers, would be ET. As the boys and Eleven search for their missing friend Will who seems to have just vanished with the government somehow responsible, a romantic angle is played out nicely in contrast to this with Nancy who lands the jock with a heart albeit with some rough sailing throughout the series run. It’s even got an awkward love triangle!
It’s all here, from supernaturally elasticated supporting walls, walkie talkies, doomed friends, eerie static coming over phones and extra dimensional beings/phantoms messing with the mains electricity and screwing with your light bulbs. Millie Bobbie Brown as the government’s child commi fighting weapon, Eleven, is one of the stars of this whole series and clearly will have a bright future with whatever she decides to do going forward. Winona Ryder plays a convincing grieving mother when her son Will goes missing with David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo all stand out performers for me also. The series ended with enough left over to wiggle more seasons out of Netflix but it didn’t finish feeling incomplete which was fantastic.
No word yet on a season two but with it’s popularity I think they’ll struggle to walk away from it without doing one. The producers have said that a return to Hawkins would be on the cards if they received the go ahead from Netflix. The feeling of season two is said to be more like the Harry Potter ‘the boy who lived’ arc, with us revisiting the boys in Hawkins when they are a little older. Apparently there is a reason Hawkins has been experiencing so much evil and we have only just scratched the surface. Be sure to check out Stranger Things on Netflix as all eight episodes are available right now!