- Created by The Duffer Brothers
- July 2016 to Present
- Joyce Byers-Winona Ryder
- Will Byers (seasons 2–present; recurring season 1)-Noah Schnapp
- Chief Jim Hopper-David Harbour
- Mike Wheeler-Finn Wolfhard
- Eleven / Jane Hopper (“El”)-Millie Bobby Brown
- Dustin Henderson-Gaten Matarazzo
- Lucas Sinclair-Caleb McLaughlin
- Nancy Wheeler-Natalia Dyer
- Jonathan Byers-Charlie Heaton
- Karen Wheeler-Cara Buono
- Steve Harrington (seasons 2–present; recurring season 1)-Joe Keery
- Max Mayfield (seasons 2–present)-Sadie Sink
- Billy Hargrove (seasons 2–3)-Dacre Montgomery
- Bob Newby (season 2; guest season 3)-Sean Astin
- Sam Owens (season 2; guest season 3)-Paul Reiser
- Robin Buckley (season 3–present)-Maya Hawke
- Erica Sinclair (season 3–present; recurring season 2)-Priah Ferguson
- Murray Bauman (season 4, recurring seasons 2–3)-Brett Gelman
A group of friends must confront government conspiracies and the supernatural during the 80s in a small Indiana town.
Stranger Things is by far one of my favorite streaming shows. It may even be among my Top 10 of all time. I grew up during the 80s, so it certainly plays on my nostalgia for the era. It looks like the time but not like they took the dress and the style from a catalog but rather went through pictures and tried to make something authentic. That’s the first thing it gets right. And by doing so it becomes as much a trip down memory lane as it does an interesting story.
Too often for any era really it seems that costumers thumb through fashion magazines and give us something really pretty but not authentic. It may be pretty to look at and cool to watch but it does not pull you in with a sense of reality.
One of my favorite parts aside from the nostalgia aspect is that central characters are not the coolest of the cool. They are fairly average to bordering on nerdy. Then or now you are more likely to find individuals like them in everyday life than you are to find your typical portrayal of a child in film.
The children themselves are struggling to grow up and find their place in the world. And like any good narrative who they are and what they experience helps inform their take and solution on things.
And with more authentic children you’re getting a more authentic presentation of the assorted family situations. For example Joyce (Winona Ryder) is a struggling mother with a deadbeat ex-husband. But she’s not pathetic because she is struggling. This once cool girl has been smacked with the realities of life and is trying to get to a good situation.
The characters make logical choices. There are no out of left field moments. Nobody makes an illogical decision or has a reaction that does not fit with how they are portrayed. In other words the writing is not lazy. This is well thought through.
There are no abrupt leaps or incongruous turns in the storyline for each season. You may not see where it is going but once it gets there you can see the progression.
One thing Stranger Things can do well is introduce new characters. We started out with Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and her sons Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), the divorced Jim Hopper, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and his sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer), the telepathic and psychokinetic Eleven or “El” (Millie Bobby Brown), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) among several others. Season Two and Three both tossed in new characters into the fold and they didn’t really screw with the already established dynamic. From Season Two on we got Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) and her stepbrother Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), Bob Newby (Sean Astin), Sam Owens (Paul Reiser), Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke), Erica Sinclair (Priah Ferguson), Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) among others. They fit into the world established. That is a difficult thing for any series to do once let alone multiple times unless it is a true ensemble show.
Stranger Things, from the costumes to the characters to the scripts to the storylines, is sharp and strong. It is an homage to 80s horror and does it without being blatantly obvious. They are not poking fun of those movies or are knocking them. Rather this is an homage to the feel and the vibe that you got from such movies. The 80s were a favorite era of mine for not only science-fiction but for horror. Some were scary or just had scary moments, but they were generally fun. They were gory excursions with weird monsters or just bizarre situations and that’s what this show manages to do. It’s not heavy on the gore but it has weird monsters in a weird situation with a Cold War backdrop.
The Upside Down, the place from which all the problems flow in Stranger Things, is a dark and twisted version of our own world. Accessed because of a government experiment, it threatens harm to our world. That idea is enough for a one off adventure or, as is the case here, an ongoing series.
In keeping with the characters, the understanding of this nightmare world is given to the audience by the children. It’s related in a Dungeons & Dragons style way and, well, it’s rather disturbing when it comes to not only the universe but the big bad in charge of it-The Mind Flayer.
Season One was absolutely amazing. It nicely set up the world and established the assorted core characters. In a style reminiscent of Heroes, the characters moved about on their own before being brought together in the finale. Events pulled them back together rather than they got there because it was the last episode.
The characters got an arc and went through some changes. It was a season that not only played on nostalgia but had strong character development. The finale of each episode left you wanting more and the wrap-up was just amazingly satisfying. If the series had ended right then and there, while you may have been disappointed, you would’ve had at least closure for everything.
Season two was equally strong. It introduced new characters that you came to care about. They expanded upon the mythology and the world of Stranger Things continued to grow.
I admit Season Three was not the strongest of their seasons but in a strong show a weak season in comparison to the others is still a strong season in comparison to other shows. I think the finale just did not feel as significant as others had. That and people get irritated when the core characters separate when a new season is promised.
Stranger Things this is as much an experience as it is a show. It’s one of the greatest series on streaming and is most definitely a must see!