Wikipedia describes the hit Netflix Series Stranger Things as such: “Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s, the first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy amid supernatural events occurring around the town including the appearance of a psychokinetic girl who helps the missing boy’s friends in their own search.” Although this is a decent synopsis of the plot, this description fails to capture the nuances and unique quirks of this show that make it so special. I compiled a list of my five favorite things about Stranger Things and detail why you should watch it if you haven’t already!
First and foremost, the nostalgia. If you’re like me and yearn for the carefree days of youth, then this show is for you. This show relies heavily on it’s nostalgia factor; it shows kids truly behaving like kids. We see them riding bikes everywhere, getting into trouble, swearing, and hiding secrets from their parents. The main group of boys, consisting of Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will are all funny and unique in their own ways, and probably function similarly to you and your squad. It’s nice to be reminded of the confusing and amazing time that was adolescence, even if your childhood didn’t feature a telekinetic girl and a bloodthirsty monster from a alternate dimension!
Secondly, the female characters are pretty bad ass. Although the gang of boys on the show are great, it’s the amazing female characters that really make the show. First off, we have Eleven, a mysterious young girl with dangerous powers and a dark past. Next, we have Nancy Wheeler, teenage sister of Mike Wheeler. At first, Nancy seems to be starring in something of a classic John Hughes rom-com à la Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink. However, her character soon morphs into something much more badass. I’ll give you a hint: it involves monster hunting, dimension traveling, and a pretty sweet revolver! Nancy quickly became one of my favorite characters due to her relatable teen drama as well as her turn into the resident gun-wielding badass. Lastly, we have Joyce Byers. Joyce is the single mom of Jonathan and Will — Will is the kid who goes missing at the start of the series and gets the plot rolling. Joyce loves her kids very much and will do anything to get her son back. It is Joyce’s emotional vulnerability and determination that quickly made her one of my favorite characters. All in all, this show really highlights the strengths and complexities of its female characters without making them cliché, showing some really solid writing and character development.
Third, the references in this show are amazing. The Duffer Brothers, the masterminds behind this show, have repeatedly said how they were heavily inspired by a multitude of classic movies and television shows of the eighties. They take imagery from iconic pop culture favorites such as Star Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T., The Goonies, Alien, Stephen King, Stephen Spielberg, and many, many, more. Some of the references are bold and outright, while others are more subtle. Either way, it’s fun to pick apart the references and nods to many of our favorite childhood movies and books!
Fourth, the soundtrack of this show is awesome. The Duffer brothers enlisted Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the synth band Survive to create the spooky, synth heavy soundtrack of Stranger Things, and the music quickly became one of my favorite things about the show. Reminiscent of the iconic John Williams score for the Halloween movies, much of the soundtrack serves as a call back to popular music of the time with an added, modern twist. The music gives a very eerie, spectral vibe to the show; I rarely ever skip the opening theme song because I really like to hear those chilling opening synth beats so much. It adds an awesome touch to the overall effect of the show, emphasizing how much thought and attention to detail that was put into this project.
Last but not least, what make this show so great is how it balances humor with horror so well, making for a varied, interesting viewing experience. It does a great job of dealing with very human failures and triumphs as well as playing up the supernatural element. It isn’t too terrifying or campy with its scares, but the pacing never gets bogged down with the issues between the characters. It always makes sure to throw in a scare or a laugh at the right place to provide a sense of equilibrium to the show. Overall, Stranger Things manages to balances all the elements really well to make a show that is funny, scary, heartfelt, intense, exciting, and tear jerking all at the same time!