I haven’t fallen in love with a TV show quite so thoroughly since The Flash. And I don’t think I ever engaged with The Flash as I have with Stranger Things.
If you’ve not experienced the utter privilege of watching Stranger Things yet, then you should. You should go do that right now. But for those of you who haven’t and are still reading: this article will contain spoilers.
Stranger Things is described as a love letter to the films of the 80s, specifically Spielberg’s era of whacky adventure mixed with sci-fi shenanigans. But then you throw a whole load of thriller and a pinch of horror into the mix and you’ve got something quite special. No 80’s throwback would be complete without a group of loveable misfits at its centre. Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will (Noah Schnapp) are the heart of that 80’s feel. Instantly their bikes makes one think of E.T, and their bantering a direct link to The Explorers. They play Dungeons and Dragons, they get picked on at school, and they investigate spooky happenings. What more could we possibly want? A telekinetic stranger, that’s what more.
Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is the E.T. of Stranger Things. She’s the misunderstood outsider with the power to save the day. Chapter Seven features a scene where Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Eleven are being chased down by undercover government agents in white vans whilst the group are on their bikes. All seems lost until Eleven uses her god damn mind to flip a van. Of course, it’s not quite as innocent as the feel good family flicks that Spielberg put out. Eleven drops a fair number of bodies in her campaign against the Bad Man and goes out in style as she destroys the Demogorgon.
The series features fantastic acting from everyone involved, Winona Ryder as Will’s mother steals the show with her unshakable determination to rescue her boy. But she’s never passive, always convinced of her convictions and never does she give up hope that Will is still out there, still alive. She even goes into the Upsidedown in Chapter Eight; a perfect testament to the love a mother has for her child.
Hopper (David Harbour) is another example of a fantastic character. He could have so easily became consumed by doubt or substance abuse, a character arc we’ve seen time and again, but Hopper’s past and his keen intelligence makes him a hound searching for a rabbit. He knows something’s up, and he’s one of the biggest players in Will’s eventual rescue from start to finish. In fact, he’s probably the biggest player come to think of it.
Stranger Things is a series riddled with amazing characters. Nancy (Natalia Dyer) was the perfect line between girl-next-door and strong willed go-getter. Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) wasn’t just a creepy photographer, he was a worried brother and gentle soul. Steve (Joe Keery) was more than a shallow jock, time and again he was proved to have a conscious and all of his actions (maybe beside the spraypaint) were justifiable in context. What’s more, he atoned for his past transgressions and saved both Nancy and Jonathan from the Demogorgon with his ability to act in the face of intense danger.
The cinematography is beautiful, the effects are stunning, the score is inspirational and the script inspired. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a more perfect show. It’s genuinely made me want to write a sci-fi thriller.
I’m left hollowed in the way only a great story can hollow you. Here’s to hoping the Duffer Brothers can capture the same magic in season 1 for the inevitable season 2. Great reviews all around, and very well deserved.