5 Reasons why you need to watch Stranger Things
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock recently, we’d like to inform that Netflix’s latest original TV series Stranger Things is really very good. So good that we’d recommend clearing your schedule this weekend to watch all eight of its episodes.
Having already seen major success with Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and Mr Robot, Netflix has worked its magic algorithms once again to provide a show that delivers a whole lot of heart and a whole lot of entertainment. What is so entrancing about Stranger Things is its word-of-mouth success, with the show’s popularity having been built almost purely upon people recommending the show to their mates. Which is essentially what we’re doing right now.
Stranger Things is one of the best original series we’ve seen in quite a long time. They’ve already announced a second series which will follow on directly from the first. If this eulogy isn’t enough to convince you to watch it, then maybe the following reasons will be the swing-vote needed to get you binging.
5. The ‘80s Nostalgia
It’s definitely been the most harped about feature of the show since its release, but the way that Stranger Things is able to capture ‘80s small-town America truly is a treat. Watching the show is like unearthing a time capsule from your childhood and finding everything inside of it freshly preserved – Atari’s, Ewoks, and Paula Abdul albums all still intact. Even if you didn’t grow up in the time you can still get a sense of the authenticity.
From the clothes to the dial-up phones to the slang to ‘The Thing’ movie posters hanging in Mike’s bedroom, every detail is meticulously crafted by the Duffer brothers (who have surprisingly only worked on one feature film before taking the helm of Stranger Things). The show itself is also a combination of pretty much everything you hold dear to you from that time-period. It’s E.T. meets Stand by Me meets Akira and it’s probably the best Steven Spielberg film-based-on-a-Stephen King-novel not to be directed by Steven Spielberg or based upon a novel written by Stephen King.
4. Winona Ryder
Though this certainly ties into the ’80s nostalgia, seeing Winona Ryder back to form is a major reason to tune into Stranger Things. Playing the role of Joyce Byers, mother of poor Will that goes missing (those aren’t spoilers by the way, that happens within the first five minutes of the first episode.) Winona’s performance really pulls you in from the get-go. A single mum dealing with issues way out of the norm for a suburban housewife, Winona manages to give Joyce both an inimitable determination and grit in the face of rescuing her child, as well as an intense vulnerability as a result of the nature of the ordeal.
Having been born in 1971, Winona would have experienced her own childhood in the throngs of the ‘80s, providing a neat role-reversal that allows her to experience what being a parent to a child her own age would have been like. It also doesn’t hurt that Winona hasn’t lost any of her striking good looks since she first captured our youthful hearts in Beetlejuice and it’s fantastic to see her back on our screens. Maybe, just maybe, she’s done enough to get us excited for Beetlejuice 2.
3. The Aesthetic
You could honestly watch Stranger Things on mute. It’s that pretty. We wouldn’t recommend it because you’d miss out on some of the show’s cracking dialogue, but we think it’s truly a testament to the show’s design that we’d even consider it an option. The town of Hawkins, Indiana is really brought to life before our eyes as the seasons slowly transition from Autumn to Winter in order to treat viewers with a lovely range of visuals. Tall forests and imposing cliff faces really emphasise the natural beauty of America, yet it’s the Lovecraftian Demogorgon and the eerily creepy world of the “Upside Down” that create the series’ scariest and most memorable moments. Even the use of lights are note-worthy, with one particular bunch of fairy lights providing a stunning scene that is equally one of the most pivotal points of the entire series. If that sounds bizarre, it’s because it is. But trust us when we tell you it’s also brilliant.
2. The Range of Complex Characters
One of the most important factors of any successful TV series is its characters – shows often live or die depending on how relatable their lead characters are, and it’s with a relief that we can tell you that the main characters in Stranger Things are an absolute joy to watch. No stone is left unturned in terms of characterisation as both the children and the adults alike are given fleshed out personalities that we can all recognise and relate to (perhaps bar the two needlessly cruel school bullies who appeared caricatures amongst the rest of the cast).
Having such a large cast of child-actors was always going to be task, but Stranger Things is refreshing in its presentation of kids that are kids. These little guys don’t talk with whimsy like they’ve come straight from a day-out with Mary Poppins and they aren’t afraid to tell each other to “eat shit”. Just like real kids. The main trio that we follow consists of Mike, Lucas, and Dustin, three loveable losers who spend the majority of their days casting fireballs in Dungeons & Dragons. That’s not to mean they’re merely the nerdy stereotypes however, as each character is distinct enough to separate them from the pack, unlike most shows where the children tend to all merge into one homologous figure.
Not satisfied with only nailing the children, the Duffer brothers have also nailed the teen characters as well (In hindsight, I should probably re-word that sentence…), specifically in terms of the character Steve and his failure to fit into any cookie-cutter type-casting. It would have been all too easy to have Steve be an out-and-out asshole in comparison to Jonathan Byer’s well-meaning recluse, but that’s not the way the world works. In the real world, Steve is charismatic and human and capable of just as much genuine emotion as Jonathan. He just also happens to be popular. Thus is harsh reality of life. And thus is Stranger Things.
You’re probably wondering why we’ve separated this one character out from all the rest. You're probably also wondering why her name is a number. Can she really be that interesting? Can a 12 year old actress really be that good? In short: yes. Yes, she can. And the number thing? Just watch the show to find out for yourself. That’s been the whole point of this article, for goodness sake. Youngster Millie Bobby Brown plays the role of Eleven, and despite having relatively little dialogue to work with, she manages to turn the character into something truly incredible. Quiet yet courageous, Brown is able to convey more emotion through her eyes than many veteran actors are able to do with a Hamlet soliloquy.
Dubbed ‘El’ by her new-found friends, Eleven truly steals every scene that she’s in and we honestly wouldn’t be surprised if young Millie Bobby Brown found herself making some even newer friends in the form of a handful of Emmy Awards this year. Though we doubt that would particularly please El. She’d probably be far more happy with a lifetime supply of Eggo waffles. Don’t understand that reference? WATCH THE SHOW.