by Russell Lawrence
By now you’ve heard of Stranger Things. There’s no way you haven’t. The show became a pop culture hit almost overnight. But it had a lot of things going for it from the get go. There was light promotion for the show, but it was enough to rally critics behind it.
From the start, it was easy to see the heavy influence that Steven Spielberg films had on the aesthetic behind Stranger Things, and in many ways the show follows the classic Spielberg formula. But what makes the show work is how it takes the aesthetic and narrative elements of E.T. and Super 8 and makes something new out of it. The result is a thrilling series, full of rich characters and truly terrifying moments.
Still from Stranger Things (Season 1,Episode 6, 2016)
The setting of Stranger Things is a call back to Twin Peaks, but the show is set in the 80s and is rife with throwbacks to classic rock and the evolution of synthesizers. There are so many things that I could discuss about this show. The cast is one of the strongest in recent memory, arguably featuring the best child actors to ever grace an audience. Typically in film and television, casting children is a nightmare, and watching them on screen is akin to forcing a smile. This is simply not the case in Stranger Things, as all of the actors are so believable and very talented. Millie Bobby Brown, or Eleven as she is known in the series, especially has a shining performance as a tortured child experiment.
Winona Ryder especially deserved her nomination for Best Performance in a Television Series from the Golden Globes. Her subplot of trying to communicate with her son who is trapped in a parallel dimension is one of the best points of the first season. It was incredible watching her character development and her dissent into what other characters thought was just madness.
Still of Winona Rider’s character from Stranger Things (Season 1, Episode 3, 2016)
The show mostly focuses on character development, and where other shows would introduce new locations and characters to spice things up, Stranger Things uses many of the same locations and same characters, but invites us to watch how the supernatural occurrences change them. We see children grow up, officers question their government, and women subverting conventions. Stranger Things is a show not to be missed. It’s not too late to start if you still haven’t seen it.
If you have finished the show, here’s the new trailer for Season 2!