When I was a kid I would ask my mom, “When you were younger was everything in color or black & white?” and she would say things like “Spit those paint chips out right now” or “The Elmer’s glue is not for eating.”
That anecdote has a purpose (it’s a stretch). Our perception of the past plants its roots in the time you were born. I was born in 1995. Everything that I know about the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s comes from what somebody has told me, a movie, a book, or a TV show.
The Netflix original series, Stranger Things, took a little town (Hawkins, Indiana) from a different time (1983), and through the terrific medium of modern technology, writing, and television they brought the 1980’s back to life in a sinister psychologically horrifying, coming-of-age nostalgic, 21st century masterpiece.
If you aren’t sold yet here’s the trailer:
When you dive into the Stranger Things rabbit hole you don’t feel like you’re watching a TV show. It is a movie that is broken up into 8 “chapters” with a precise and sophisticated methodology.
Stranger Things is Stand by Me, meets Twilight Zone, meets The Goonies, meets Poltergeist, meets The Breakfast Club, meets ET, meets shitting your pants. But what sets it apart from these prior works is the medium. It is a television show on Netflix. A TV show gives the audience an ample amount of time to connect with the characters and become engulfed in their psychology.
Stranger Things does a fantastic job of manipulating that. The “nice guys finish last” and the “jock always gets the girl” cliches that you see in 80’s movies are brought to the forefront of this season without cheesy stereotypes or blatant predictable narration. Each character is humanized, and we, the audience, get to learn what exactly is going on in Hawkins, Indiana right alongside the characters.
It takes all the elements of a great film, and places them into compartments. The Duffer Brothers (Hidden) directed and produced the season.
They, somehow, were able to take a few groups of protagonists: Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), Police Chief Hopper (David Harbour), and a group of 12-year-old kids and send them all on separate cinematic-depth-defying adventures and subplots that ultimately led to the same conclusion.
I’ve said enough. I envy you all for still having eight episodes left in your Netflix queue. Harambe speed.
P.S. The soundtrack is one of the best parts of the entire season. I’m talking everything from Twilight Zone synthesizers to The Clash to Peter Gabriel’s cover of David Bowie’s Heroes. It is the glue that holds the entire season together.
P.S.S.: Another season is coming, and it’s a sequel…