A case of a missing child shakes a quiet town. An odd girl with a shaven head roams the streets. It’s a subtle start, but in this story, there are Stranger Things.
Concept by: The Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross Duffer)
Original Work: TV Web Series, 2016 (still ongoing)
Derivative Works: A Mobile Videogame
Stranger Things is one of those Netflix original series that caught the world on fire. The release of the first season received pretty good reception, and for good reasons.
The story is set in a fictional town in Indiana, and the first story block concerns the missing child, Will Byers. The plot thickens when a girl with a shaved head and an unfamiliar face roams the streets. The nearby science facility seems involved, but there’s more that, and it was the time that the town finds out.
The show gets you acquainted with the townspeople, including Will’s family and friends. This cast expands as they get into their own mysteries throughout.
Stranger Things is a show that runs well on a summary. It’s very easy to relay to your friends in a “Hey, check out this show” kind of way. But here are some noteworthy things about the show you may not have heard from your friends yet.
A Small Town’s Errand
In Hawkins, nothing really interesting happens. Even the police station appears to be pointless (jobs include neighbor kids stealing garden gnomes). But as the story plays out, they get a lot more on their plate and you can feel effects of the setting.
Small towns are good settings to place mysteries. Getting any help from nearby towns is almost impossible. It makes anything out of the ordinary stand-out. Characters hide events they experience since they are a bit strange and unbelievable. It also isolates the characters and limits their number so the viewer has a more connected feel to them.
“Friends don’t lie.”
It’s a charming town, but it’s not without faults. Bullying, cliques, and family responsibilities come into play. It not only focuses on the extraordinary mysteries but also the ordinary strife. Family and friends become the absolute support for most characters.
The decision to set it in the 1980s has storytelling advantages and disadvantages.
First of all, the lack of mobile communication delays information. This is effective when you’re catching the perspective of several characters at once. It limits the area the characters go around and creates tension in an environment of danger.
Second, several references proved to be effective when explaining the story at times. In the first episode, Will’s friends play Dungeons and Dragons. This becomes an effective device in explaining at several points in the season.
The decade also has a darker time. Throughout the episodes, there are hints of the history behind the plot. In particular, the fear towards Russian undercover or advancements is adamant. During this time, US and Russia are competing with military power. Now, this probably has nothing to do with a small town with a quiet science facility (or does it??).
Heart-stealing Characters and Three Way Plot
Seriously, how can you keep up with ten to twelve characters at once? Seamlessly, with the cast riding on small groups and converging at the climax. There is Eleven, Dustin, Mike, and Lucas as they attempt to look for their missing friend. Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan get dragged into the scene when a peer also goes missing. And finally the police chief Hopper and Will’s mom, Joyce.
The actors are quite amazing. There is a genuine feel to the way the roles are portrayed. The character builds are imperfect: vulnerable, but interesting enough to keep you engaged. Each character has motives and morals, and the actors are good at maintaining that as the story goes.
To be honest, I think it’s the greatest factor that made the show so popular. The characters do have heart and they shine through.
Stranger Things is highly praised by critics and viewers alike. It currently has 2 seasons out, and it’s still ongoing. Don’t worry though if you want to only try it out: the first season is a good standalone.
Some might even say that it’s a nostalgia trip. But even without the 80s references and callbacks, it’s still a good mystery. The real awe to me comes with the components of acting, use of reference, and dialogue. The show feels cliche at times due to the generic initial character build, but it works as the story unfolds. It just does. I finished the entire first season in one sitting so hey, you might too.
This show is recommendable for people who like a bit of school drama, geekhood and mystery. As a person that merely got recommended (why didn’t you tell me about this earlier!?) into watching this, I recommend it with heart.