With over 50 million subscribers in 40 countries, Netflix has succeeded in becoming and remaining the number one TV/film streaming company, and there’s no question that the numerous original series created strictly for and available on Netflix have played a huge role in the company’s success. Since July 15, another series has been added to the streaming service that has already reeled in an incredible amount of viewers. What is this show that all Netflix subscribers should definitely be watching? The answer is Stranger Things.
Created for Netflix by brothers Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer and executive-produced by Shawn Levy, Stranger Things, set in 1980s Indiana, stars Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, the frazzled single mother of 12-year-old Will and teenaged Jonathan, David Harbour Jim Hopper, the chief of Hawkins Police Department who fell into a lapse of drug addiction and alcoholism after his divorce and the dead of his young daughter, and Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, the son of Karen and younger brother of Nancy who is intelligent, conscientious, and very committed to his friends. (The entire cast can be seen here).
On November 6, 1983, in a United States Department of Energy-backed Hawkins National laboratory, a scientist flees from an unseen menace but is ultimately taken. Meanwhile, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), a 12-year-old boy, vanishes after encountering a strange creature while riding his bicycle home from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with his three friends. The next day, a young girl (Millie Bobby Brown) appears at a local restaurant, Benny’s, wearing a hospital gown and shaved head. Benny takes pity on her and feeds her before calling the social services. A woman he assumes is a social worker arrives, and immediately shoots Benny; the girl manages to escape. Eventually, Will’s friends Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike (Wolfhard) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) find her in the rainy woods while searching for Will.
While Stranger Things “ blends classic King and Spielberg to create masterful contemporary television”, it show cannot be limited to being considered just one specific genre, as it includes a bit of everything– It’s the combination of the elements of horror, supernatural science fiction, drama and comedy that appears throughout the show that makes this show different than other series– this is one reason why Stranger Things has already hooked so many viewers—it’s an interesting and exciting change from shows that are placed in a one-genre category.
1. The opening credits alone are awesome:
“The opening credits for most TV shows are occasionally well-done, rarely memorable, and almost always perfunctory. They’re just there because they have to be. But Stranger Things starts off every episode with a minimalistic sequence that’s as engrossing as it is simple. All you see at first are technicolor neon-red shapes against a black background, filled in by a pulsing synthesizer score. As the shapes finally come together to spell out the title of the show, you notice the crackling imperfections of the black background, like actual film, and the distinctly Stephen King font you’ve seen on book covers like The Shining or shows like Twin Peaks.”
2. It references ’80s classics, but never panders:
Every scene from Stranger Things feels somehow familiar, in large part because it’s constantly drawing subtle influence from everything from All the Right Moves to Alien. The premise alone calls to mind quite a few classics: a motley group of young suburban boys (The Goonies) go on an adventure (Stand By Me) and along the way meet a friend with supernatural powers (E.T.). Meanwhile, a sheriff resists the powers that be (Jaws) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a child (Twin Peaks).”
3. It still feels brand new:
While Stranger Things is in conversation with plenty of early classics such as those mentioned above, it still feels brand new–Government conspiracies. The monitoring of civilians–the plight of those being ostracized by bullies. The creeping advent of new technology. Sound familiar? Stranger Things may take obvious cues from 80s-era cinema, but it still feels vital today because we never really left those anxieties behind.”
4. It has unique characters:
Winona Ryder‘s performance is grabbing headlines for all the right reasons — subverting the role of the manic mom no one believes by inserting a stronger backbone. But the distraught mother isn’t the only archetype flipped on its head. Almost every character, from the big bully jock to the chubby boy who can’t pronounce his S’s, exercises agency. “Characters with cringe-worthy weakness at the beginning of the season turn into [hardened heroes] by the end, and it never feels forced. It’s just human.”
5. It’s not afraid to go dark:
Every character’s actions propose a real risk. “Multiple characters that are likable and complex die suddenly and unceremoniously.” After watching only the first episode of Stranger Things, viewers quickly learn that the unpredictable plot makes it virtually impossible to assume which characters will make it through the episode.
6. The music is perfect:
“From the title credits on, the pulsing synth music…acts as an IV for the show, injecting a slow drip of weird right into the bloodstream of the viewer. It’s not just the score that gets the mood across. Classic ’80s hits from bands like The Clash both contextualize the era, and become central indicators of the shows themes. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” could’ve just been background for a scene, but it becomes a question gnawing at multiple characters over the course of the narrative — as existentially important as Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be?'”
7. It stays mysterious:
For all the cool references and story-telling techniques behind “Stranger Things,” the most important part of a show of this genre is its mystery. Like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or “The Thing,” you know as much as the characters do, and often that’s painfully little. You spend most of the story trying to figure out where monsters come from, and what they’re capable of doing. And like the best movies and shows of the genre, you’re left with just enough answers to feel satisfied, and just enough questions to come back for more.”
Stranger Things’ still-rising popularity has already sparked rumors that a second season is already in the works, and although creators Matt and Ross Duffer have not confirmed the notion, they have not denied it either. While it is not official yet, given all the praise the show is getting, a second season seems likely. The Duffer brothers have already said that if they are granted another batch of episodes, “it’s not a second season as much as a sequel.”
The entire first season (eight 50-minute episodes) of Stranger Things is currently available on Netflix and is rated TV-14