Article by Alexa Doiron
The Netflix Original series Stranger Things has received acclaim over the summer from both critics and lovers of all things weird after it premiered on Netflix in July. The show is set in a small town in the 80’s where twelve-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnappp) goes missing. As we watch Will’s classically nerdy group of friends and his family struggle to locate him, the show reveals a more sinister plot in an electrical company that has somehow released a monster from an alternate reality known as “the upside down.” The show adds different elements that reminds viewers of classic 80’s sci-fi films including a high school romance with the school heartthrob, underdog characters we can relate to, and a bit of all things strange.
The series, created by Matt and Ross Duffer, stands out among the rest by doing an excellent job of creating a believable setting. From the references to the commercials on the TV, everything about the show feels authentic in its 1983 period. This is commendable for a Netflix series, because there is a clear effort to take the time and create something that feels incredibly realistic. Viewers will start to forget that this isn’t a real occurrence as well as enjoy the nostalgic experience of an era long gone.
One part of this show that has drawn in viewers is the return of Winona Ryder. The actress was once an icon of the 1990’s, starring in cult classic The Heathers, but fell off of the pedestal when she was caught for shoplifting in 2001. Since then Ryder has laid low and taken the time to repair her image in the media. Stranger Things is her first large role since the incident, enticing many of the star’s waiting fans, and she has truly shown the skills that made her so sought after in the 90’s.
Along with all of these aspects, there is a profound attention to characterization that allows viewers to feel invested in the series. We see a set of two different families, the family of Will and the family of his best friend, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard). Next to these two units, there are smaller minor characters that involve themselves in young Will’s disappearance. The show chose unknown child actors for these roles and picked the group of undiscovered stars out of a group of over a thousand actors. The pre-teen actors are the true talent of the show; they create characters that make us hurt, love, and laugh. With the average age of this group being 11, the talent they already possess is commendable.
In the show, there are also a few older characters. The main focus is Mike’s older sister, Nancy (Natalia Dyer), who entices us with her romance to the local popular boy, Steve (Joe Keery). These characters provide a second storyline that runs parallel to the story of missing Will. By creating this run-along action alongside the main action, viewers can expect to be entirely invested in the lives of these young, middle-class kids. Not to mention, the show has unintentionally created an icon in Nancy’s reasonable, level-headed friend Barb (Shanon Purser). After the innocent character is momentarily tossed to the wayside by her best friend, she is taken by the monster right before the viewer’s’ eyes. For whatever reason, though, fans of the show seem to not be able to let Barb go. She has become an internet sensation and the face of justice-seeking Twitter memes. This character just won’t die, it seems, and the directors have come to realize this. The dedication from fans has made the writers consider different ways to bring the character back into focus.
Stranger Things is perfect for those looking to dive back into the world of 1980’s sci-fi classics. It calls to memory the films people grew up with by placing characters and situations next to a setting that reminds viewers of a home long gone. The show has been renewed for a second season and fans eagerly await the strange adventures to come for their beloved characters. Photo Courtesy of Google