Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Mathew Modine
Now that the hype has settled around Stranger Things we can talk real about it. That doesn’t mean this will be a spoiler filled review because it most definitely will not be. It’s interesting that when the series first hit Netflix everyone raved about it. Now that it has been out for a bit some folks are starting to accuse it of simply ripping the good from classic 80’s films and TV. The thing is, this series has never pretended to be original, but it is truly unique. What makes the series unique? Compare it to everything else on the market today. There’s an edginess to almost everything, which I like, but this series focusing on coming of age youth and their adventure is definitely not edgy, which makes it feel fresh regardless of the source material it is borrowing from. Remember there are generations of viewers that aren’t as familiar with The Goonies, E.T., and Stand by Me that see Stranger Things as new and different, and it is for this generation.
I’m thankful there are filmmakers that recognize that we could use a little John Hughes these days. The Duffer Brothers successfully captured the heart of those classic 80’s coming of age adventures and layered on just enough darkness to intrigue modern sensibilities. In fact their biggest success is the melding of modern expectations with the retro innocence of kids on bikes with walkie-talkies that think they can save the world. Haters need to put their cynicism aside for a minute and look at Stranger Things for what it is: an homage to the innocence of a different time in filmmaking and in pop culture. A greater trick would have been to execute the heart, and the adventure, in current time. The truth is that might not be possible. Modern youth’s are more jaded and cynical. They have their parents and the information age to thank for that.
Stranger Things is a nostalgia trip that features some really solid child actors, a few adult actors that know the era being referenced all to well, and a story that features a level of ambiguity that will be beloved by some and hated by others. I enjoyed not having every question answered by the end of the series. John Carpenter would leave the series where it is with all the mystery left for post viewing conversations. It now appears that there will be a season two because modern viewers can’t handle not having every answered laid out for them (for reference see the outcry over the cliffhanger of last seasons’ Walking Dead). The first season isn’t perfect; it has a few slower spots here and there but overall there isn’t much to complain about, unless all of the borrowing from the past is too much of a problem for you.
If you like Stephen King writing kids and Stephen Spielberg directing them you should simply be happy that Stranger Things exists because up to now all we’ve been able to do is watch the classics over and over on Netflix.