If you’re not aware of all the buzz that’s surrounding the Netflix series Stranger Things, then you are seriously living under a rock. Basically, it’s the small screen home run hit of the summer. Usually, I’m not one to get into the show du jour, but one of my friends nudged me to check out Stranger Things. He and I have similar tastes in movies and shows, so I heeded his advice, and watched the first episode on Tuesday. Seven episode (and a day and a half) later, I was sobbing over the ending, and craving for more. Let me explain why.
Stranger Things is a Netflix original series that has the best parts of science fiction, fantasy, and 80s pop culture all rolled up into a neatly packaged gift for the senses. The story revolves around the disappearance of Will Byers, and the three friends (Mike, Lucas, and Dustin) who are trying to find him. These friends are the quintessential 80s nerds, who love D&D, Star Wars, and comic books. They’re also the smart kids, who are high-ranking officials of their middle school’s AV Club, and speak the gospel of Carl Sagan. When Will mysteriously goes off the radar, the boys take it into their own hands to discover the truth behind his disappearance.
During their search,the boys come across a strange girl who calls herself Eleven. Mike, who’s sort of the ring-leader of the group, dubs her “Elle” for short. The more time Mike and Company spend around Eleven, the more information she divulges about a strange world she calls The Upside Down. This is where she claims Will is trapped. After Eleven’s discovery, more weird happenings occur, including disappearances and deaths. If what Eleven says is true, then there’s a much bigger–and much more scary–force at work.
Mike, Lucas, and Dustin aren’t the only ones looking for their friend; Will’s mother, Joyce (played by Winona Ryder), and brother, Jonathan are also searching for him. After filing a missing person report, Joyce enlists the help of Police Chief Hopper. In a campaign to find Will, Joyce frantically tracks down any lead that might result in the discovery of her son.
There are other forces at work in the story, too. Government conspiracies, the supernatural, and teen angst all play into the mystery of Will Byer’s disappearance. I don’t want to divulge too much information in an effort to make this post as spoiler free as possible, but believe me: the show is exceptionally captivating.
One of my favorite aspects of the show is its setting. The Duffer Brothers, who created the series, masterfully intertwine mystery, horror, and humor into an era where science fiction was running at full throttle. The references are on-point, the fashion is totally rad, and the set makes you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. I can’t imagine a better period in time where this story could unfold.
Another one of my favorite aspects to the show is how its developed the characters. I personally became invested in the main characters from the first episode (Mike’s older sister, Nancy, kind of annoyed me for a while, but then I grew to like her somewhat), especially the boys. Mike is a charismatic young man, who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Lucas is level-headed, and often the voice of reason. And Dustin is the comedic relief, who has no filter and obsesses over Star Wars and The X-Men. They just mesh so well together that you truly believe they’re friends. They’re the kind of kids I wish I knew growing up.
I also adore Eleven. Her character development is perhaps the most masterful out of the entire ensemble. As her background is slowly revealed, you understand why she has to overcome certain situations. She’s not some stereotypical female character, and you appreciate her so much more for that. The same goes for Will’s mom, Joyce. Winona Ryder, who came out of nowhere, gives such a phenomenal performance that you truly believe she is Joyce Byers. Her anguish and determination are palpable, but never over-dramatic. Even Nancy, who’s got a bad case of Molly Ringwald Syndrome, comes into her own eventually.
Most importantly, the story is so well-developed, it makes you ashamed that you can’t come up with an idea half as good. When I finished the season, I felt so satisfied at how every event unfolded, no matter how insignificant. The mystery and intrigue absolutely stunned me–enthralled me, even–and left me with much speculation and interest. I also experienced every possible emotion during this crazy ride of a plot. All in all, each episode leaves you wanting more. Luckily, a second season has been confirmed. Now all that’s left to do is play the waiting game.
I’m telling you: do whatever you can to watch this show. Even if you have to sign up for a free month with Netflix, you have to see Stranger Things. Then we can all discuss this creepy little story. If you have seen it, let’s nerd out in the comments below! I’m patiently awaiting to gush with other people.
Life was meant to be lived nerdily, so what are you waiting for?