I’m Loving ‘Stranger Things’ and You Should Too
I wrote earlier this spring about how we had gone ahead and cancelled our DirecTV account, leaving us without any ‘traditional’ source of television: No cable, no satellite, no antenna. Ironically enough, we’re dealing this summer with more great TV than we know what to do with. And right at the top of the heap, the one show we love the most, is ‘Stranger Things,’ streaming on Netflix.
I know I’m not saying anything controversial or new when I say that ‘Stranger Things’ is a wonderfully-made, loving homage to 1980’s pop culture in all its glory. I’m also not spoiling anything when I say that ‘Stranger Things‘ is creepy as all hell.
Kids my age (kids, I say. Hell, I’m 47 years old. But this show makes me feel like a kid.) grew up during a really kind of incredible time in the 70’s and 80’s. And now that we’re adults, our generation is looking back at the culture of our youth and taking inspiration from it, rolling into amazing new art. And that’s exactly what the makers of ‘Stranger Things‘ have done. ‘Stranger Things‘ is what happens when a group of talented filmmakers take their love of Spielberg movies, Stephen King novels, John Carpenter soundtracks, and a bunch of other top-notch 80’s cultural references and roll them all up into an awesome new show.
‘Stranger Things‘ is an 8-part series set in a small Indiana town in 1983. It’s centered around a group of young boys, one of whom goes mysteriously missing. It’s also a story about a young girl who these boys find in the woods while looking for their missing friend. And it’s a story about a very secretive government facility on the outskirts of town, where things are happening. Strange things. And that’s about all I can say, or want to say, about ‘Stranger Things.’ The less you know about the story, the more you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.
What I will say is how much I love it, and the way it pays its respects (very deep respects) to the decade in which the story is set. Fans of all things 80’s will have no trouble whatsoever noticing nods to so many things, but the greatest seeds of inspiration for ‘Stranger Things‘ happen to be two of my very favorite things in the whole world: Stephen King books and Steven Spielberg movies. The two Steves are all over this show, from the thematic elements of its storyline to the beautiful (sometimes terrifying) way in which it was filmed. Again, I don’t want to say too much in detail about it. But if you love ‘ET’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘IT’ and ‘The Body’ or any other Stephen King novel, my god you’re going to love this show.
If you know me at all, you know I love music. Again, ‘Stranger Things‘ absolutely nails it with its amazing soundtrack full of creepy, nostalgic synthesizer-based music by an outfit known as ‘SAVAGE.’ The analog synths are a throwback to John Carpenter’s classic soundtracks of the 1970s and 80s. Actual songs from the era also play a role in the show’s storyline. Classics from The Clash, New Order, Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen, and more are featured, and they fit perfectly. Netflix has a Spotify playlist featuring this music, linked HERE and below.
There are references obvious and well-hidden throughout each episode of ‘Stranger Things.’ Fans of Stand by Me, The Goonies, John Hughes, The Clash, New Order, and a million other things will be kept busy making notes of the references. Even the show’s logo looked familiar to me, and if you look at the picture of the cover of Stephen King’s 1991 novel ‘Needful Things‘ I think you’ll see why.
But the 80’s culture references never get in the way of the story. It’s fascinating and mysterious, and more than a little bit scary. But not too scary, which makes it perfect for family viewing (with kids over the age of 12 or 13, I’d say.) I should add this it’s also incredibly funny and touching as well.
All of the actors in ‘Stranger Things‘ are wonderful, but none more so than Winona Ryder, who shines as the mother of the missing boy. It’s really nice to see her back in a high-profile role, and she’s just another nod to earlier movies. And I have to mention the brilliant acting of 12-year old Millie Bobby Brown as the mysterious girl whose name is simply ‘Eleven.’ She’s amazing, and a young actress to keep an eye on.
We’ve been binge-watching ‘Stranger Things‘ and can’t wait to see more. The creators (The mysterious ‘Duffer Brothers’) have promised that there will be more seasons of ‘Stranger Things‘ in the future. If they’re as good as this first season, let’s hope for many more. If you haven’t yet,check it out!
Here’s the Spotify playlist:
As if this all isn’t enough, here is a really cool Stranger Things mixtape by DJ Yoda, containing music, soundtrack score, and dialog from the show. THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE !!!!
***UPDATE AUG. 31 SEAON TWO ANNOUNCED!!!*** Check it: