Break out the Christmas lights and pop some Eggos in the toaster
by Annie Muscat
Staff Netflix Enthusias
I’ll admit it, I wondered too, what’s so great about this new series that Forbes calls “the best Netflix original so far”? After the undeniable mess that was Fuller House, can we ever really trust Netflix again? I’m here to lay out the facts about Stranger Things so you’ll understand where all the praise comes from. Then you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth your precious time. (Spoiler alert: it is.)
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Stranger Things is a science fiction drama centered around some downright peculiar events in a small Indiana town in 1983. When a local woman’s son is seemingly abducted, she frantically searches for answers about his disappearance, launching an investigation that reveals a corrupt government program, terrifying unearthly beings, and a girl capable of extraordinary things. If that doesn’t already pique your interest, there are other elements that make this show truly outstanding.
I’m guessing most of you were not alive-or even conceived-during the ‘80s, but everyone loves a blast from the past. Stranger Things evokes a sense of nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” of shoulder pads, Jordache jeans, and mullets. Extremely authentic set and costume designs transport the viewer from the present day. Even the cinematography echoes 1980s color grading and ditches the modern-day “shaky camera” effect in exchange for 30-year-old filmic trappings. The opening sequence uses a popular typeface from the 1980s (the exact font Stephen King used on the covers of several of his renowned fantasy and horror novels) and was lensed to create the effect of a flashlight shining through film: creating just the kind of high contrast image you’d have seen in television shows of the time.
And as if nostalgic cinematography, sets, and costume design aren’t enough, the soundtrack is awesome. Songs by The Clash, Jefferson Airplane, David Bowie, and other synthetic, psychedelic rockers play throughout the season, furthering the 1980s vibe. Casting also contributes to the show’s acclaim with 1990’s icon, Winona Ryder, delivering an intense performance as a distraught mother. The phenomenally talented child actors, including up-and-coming 12-year-old actress, Millie Bobby Brown, round out the impressive cast. The writers clearly take character development seriously; each character has a depth that creates immediate sympathy.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the show, however, is its allusions to other films of the period, such as Poltergeist, Alien, E.T., The Shining, The Goonies, and more. These references are not always subtle, however they may be missed by less seasoned viewers, making it fun to speculate about the source of a particular scene.
The suspense and mystery of Stranger Things leaves the viewer on the edge of their couch wanting more. It manages to be shocking and frightening without jump scares or gore, an increasing rarity in modern horror. Astounding computer-generated imagery enhances scenes of action, while staying true to the 1980s setting. Lovers of special effects, nostalgia, and intriguing plotlines will not be disappointed. The show currently only consists of one season containing eight episodes; yet, Netflix confirmed that a second season will premiere in 2017. If I’ve managed to convince you why Stranger Things is extraordinary television, great! If not, that’s too bad. There’s always Fuller House and Jersey Shore reruns. Just do yourself a favor and check it out. Come on, fellow millennials, what are you waiting for? Let the binge-watching begin! The first season is easily binge-watchable over a weekend, but truly hardcore Netflix junkies can marathon the show all day. If that sounds like you, I applaud your dedication, but also, get a job.