By Jack Owens
The latest of Netflix’s string of original series’, only available on the popular streaming platform, is this soon-to-be cult classic. Stranger Things is an eight episode miniseries, released this past July, which re-lives the nostalgia of 80s sci-fi films. It’s like an awesome polyamorous marriage of ET, Strange Encounters of the Third Kind, and Freaks and Geeks that gives you everything you didn’t even know you wanted.
The show, based in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in 1983, is centered around the disappearance of 12 year old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). Will’s mother (Winona Ryder) and the lazy town sheriff (David Harbour) create an unlikely team as they try to find Will after a series of odd happenings lead them to dig deeper into the mystery of his disappearance. Meanwhile, Will’s group of misfit friends try to find him with the help of Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown), a little girl they encounter in the woods when searching for their friend. Things become more complicated when Eleven, who they call “El” for short, displays that she can do things with her mind.
The series mostly follows this group of kids, all played exceptionally by an awesome cast of young actors. It’s a perfect coming of age dynamic, combined with a side plot involving the older high-school-age siblings of two of the kids, who offer the teenage bullies vs. nerds drama that you need out of a good 80s movie.
Stranger Things excellently contrasts the horror and mystery elements with humor throughout. The group of kids and Eleven have tons of light moments despite the dark task of finding their missing friend. There is also a classically awkward sexual tension between Nancy, the studious innocent sister of one of Will’s friends, and Steve, the popular womanizer with a head full of luscious 80s lettuce. Every moment not focused on the comical storylines is focused on the mystery surrounding Will and who or what took him. There are quite a few horror elements as well, complete with things jumping out and some pretty grotesque scenes.
The hands-down best thing about Stranger Things, however, is the soundtrack. From the title sequence to the transition scenes there are eerie synth beats that amplify the feelings of the scene. The musical element is the best weapon that the Duffer Brothers, creators of the series, had to give the true nostalgic 80s film feel. As a member of the baseball team, I actually loved the title sequence so much that I chose it as my walk-out song when I go out to pitch this fall.
Now, if you’re thinking you don’t have time to watch a long Netflix series then no worries, there are only eight episodes ranging from 41 to 55 minutes. Similar to other successful Netflix originals like Making a Murderer and Narcos, this show will not take you more than a lazy day or two to watch. Don’t be surprised if you watch the whole thing in one sitting, though, because each episode ends in a cliffhanger that will have you slamming on the space bar to get the next episode playing.
Hopefully at this point, you’re already adding Stranger Things to your Netflix queue, but if you don’t believe me, just believe everyone else who has ever watched this show. I have yet to hear or read a bad review. In fact, someone watching this series and not liking it would for sure be…a strange thing.