The many joys of Stranger Things

By now, the quantity of content from Netflix is overwhelming, so much so that when a new show appears on the main page, it’s far easier – and more likely – to gloss over it for reruns of Parks and Recreations. Don’t let that happen to Stranger Things, the newest original series from Netflix, set in small-town Indiana, early 1980s. The eight-part first season is the most fun I’ve had watching a television series in some years. From the Duffer brothers’ specific story to the incredible acting from all involved to the ominous soundtrack, Stranger Things hits all the right notes.

Here are the 10 best things about Stranger Things, season 1:

Winona Ryder

Among the initial joys of Stranger Things is seeing Winona Ryder cast in a role we’ve seen so many times before, one of the more emotionally rich characters an actor can play. Ryder is the grieving, hopeful Joyce Byers, who spends the eight hours searching for her son Will. The role has been played many times before, the grieving parent. And Ryder is so clearly excited to take on the role, and delivers all of the emotional range one would expect, and then some. The story takes her down a rabbit hole of insanity and illogical events, and Ryder deftly manages to go along with the story and acknowledge its absurdity throughout the journey.


The 1980s homage

To put it simply, Stranger Things works because of its setting. The Duffer brothers have done their homework, and create a world completely original yet one we’ve seen before, in 80s films such as PoltergeistThe Goonies, and Halloween. The setting gives the audience an advantage – we know something very bad is happening – and it’s enormous fun to see the characters all catch-up to us.


Allison P. Davis already explained all the ways Barb is the greatest, but it’s worth reiterating: Barb is LEGEND.

Christmas lights

Big ups to Winona Ryder for doing to Christmas lights what Poltergeist did to a bad antenna signal.

The soundtrack

The show is an all-encompassing thrill-ride, and the show’s  soundtrack, from the opening theme to the music that pulses through the show’s tensest moments, is the type of music that would make even John Carpenter weep.


Dungeons & Dragons

The show charmingly follows three D&D-worshipping kids as they attempt to find their missing friend, Will. The show drops several allusions to the game, adding to the show’s whimsical outlook.


Jonathan & Nancy

While outside the main focus of the series, older siblings of two of the children – Jon and Nancy – bring humanity to a high school in desperate need of some. From the jump, I had a feeling that/was rooting for the outcast Jonathan would team up with good-girl Nancy to help solve the mystery. That they do team up – amid Jonathan’s stalker-ish photo reveal, nonetheless – reveals the warm heart at the center of this universe.


The kids

Will’s friends – Dustin, Lucas and Mike – bring much needed comedic relief to what is actually a pretty dark storyline. The kids deftly operated in a lane somewhere between childhood and adolescence, not naïve, but also not ready to give up on fantasy.

The car flip

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping – if not head-exploding – moment of the first season is when Eleven flips a car with her mind. Let me repeat: A small child FLIPS A CAR WITH HER MIND.



The child at the center of a larger government conspiracy, Eleven is one of the most interestingly played character in the series. She’s wounded, scarred, but also strong and sincere. And it’s a joy to see the character emerge from her shell as she gets closer to Mike. Not to mention, her final scene is one of the more heartbreaking, tear-inducing moments in recent memory. It’s almost enough to make you want to visit the Upside Down.


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