Let me preface this by saying I do not like scary movies or TV shows at all. I can’t even sit through a scary movie trailer. So when I saw the Stranger Things trailer earlier this summer, I had no desire to watch it. But one rainy August night at home alone, I ran out of things to watch. So I went out on a limb and hit play on the first episode of Stranger Things.
Stranger Things is an eight-episode Netflix Original series. It’s science-fiction plot opens with a sinister kidnapping and peeks in on a secret government facility. The show follows three young boys that encountered a strange girl who helps them find their missing friend.
To put it bluntly, I loved it. It has everything I could ever want in entertainment – aliens, conspiracy theories, parallel universes, CIA experiments, high school and the supernatural. How could I resist that?
The characters were expertly developed – besides Barb, but we’ll get to that later. The child actors were absolutely brilliant, you could tell that they were genuinely friends. Seriously, I think most of them did a better job than the adult actors. The show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, actually had to fight against other producers to get the child cast that they did.
Also, props to you, Winona Ryder. I don’t think I could have put up with anyone else’s ‘going insane’ face.
I loved how the show displayed inklings of elementary romance, innocent crushes and harmless flirtation. But it also tells the story of a more complicated romance, one girl torn between the cool guy and the outcast. And my favorite, the unbreakable bond between father and daughter, Dr. Brenner and Eleven, but the show never explicitly confirmed that fact.
Though the characters were perfectly portrayed and the stories they told were enticing, some parts of the plot didn’t dive in deep enough. Take Barb, for example. Barb was swallowed up into The Upside Down, only to be forgotten and never mentioned again. Or that none of the townspeople questioned the secret government facility that’s not even a mile from their town, or that Eleven’s “dad” was an evil scientist. Could somebody please show me a birth certificate, because I’m really confused.
I think the show spent too much time on the suspense and less time on the mystery. I got so sick and tired of squinting at my screen to stare at the dank, sticky Upside Down. I would have rather the plot focus more on how Eleven has magic powers or how Mike just stumbled into the Upside Down.
If I were creating a science fiction show, it would focus more on the science side of the plot. Like really, how could Mike control Christmas lights to send his mom messages?
While the plot was slow-moving on the science side of things, I was absolutely enthralled in Nancy and Steve’s romantic subplot. When Jonathan butted in to Nancy’s romance, I was actually swooning. The show put an exciting spin on the cliché good guy vs. bad guy romance story by winding in Jonathan’s missing little brother and, as Nancy likes to call it, “monster hunting.”
Their monster hunting would have seemed stupid and elementary if the show wasn’t set in a sleepy, wooded town during a chilly 1980’s fall. I could almost smell the fallen leaves as the boys rode their bikes through the woods. It was a work of cinematic art. They created a setting full of so much authenticity, you really got that Anywhere, USA feel. Everything seemed cold and chilling, which contributed to the haunting, creepy vibe.
All in all, I loved it enough to watch it in two days and to favorite countless Twitter memes about Mike and Eleven. I hope that season two gives me some clarity about Eleven’s real parents, and I hope that Winona Ryder doesn’t have to use her mental breakdown face as much. I’m sure her cheeks are very sore.