The latest internet phenomena is here, Stranger Things. The Netflix original show that popped up within the last few weeks and has spread like wildfire.
The show is 8 episodes, each about an hour long, that follow a group of kids in a small town in 1983. From what I can tell it’s an entirely original story, but if you grew up in the 80’s it feels instantly familiar. An easy way to describe the show is if Steven Speilberg directed a show written by John Hughes from a Stephen King novel. It’s equal parts ET, Poltergeist, Goonies and It. I know this hits me right in my own personal sweet spot.
I had seen the buzz about the show building for a few weeks. We had needed a break from the politics dominating our usual TV watching so we gave this much-discussed show a chance. Within 20 minutes, I was hooked.
The show is smartly written. It avoids some cliches but indulges in others that are so uniquely a part of the 80’s storytelling. It’s tensely directed and smartly paced, keeping you on the edge of your seat and giving you just enough hints early on to keep you guessing. The way the episodes are constructed really encourages you to binge watch, each episode picks up where the previous left off. It’s constructed like 1 large movie broken up into 8 pieces.
I can not say enough good things about the performances, young and old alike the actors deliver. Winona Ryder is fantastic as a grief stricken mother who will latch on to any hope that her child is still alive. The kids carry most of the show and they do so very well. I can easily see these actors one day becoming household names and major stars. All of the kids deliver strong performances that never feel forced. I could easily see my younger self in these kids. Of course, the real shining star is the young girl, Millie Bobby Brown, playing the mysterious Eleven. It’s rare to see a cast of children who all are this good.
There are a few flaws to be found, mostly surrounding the period music and pop culture references. Since they make it a point to say that the show takes place in 1983, it stands out even more when a song is played that came out after 1983. There are also a few references that I’m not sure would’ve spread to a small town in Indiana in 1983.
The most amazing thing about the show is that it appeared to have come out of nowhere. It’s an original story and before two weeks ago I don’t think this show was on anyone’s radar. Now it’s become the most talked about thing since the premiere of Game of Thrones.
Occasionally something will come along that just captures our cultural attention. Right now, it’s Stranger Things. It is the perfect blend of nostalgia and originality. Now I’m just counting days until we get season 2.