Why Stranger Things Is Exactly What We Needed
September 5th, 2016 | by Conor Murray
Stranger Things: Netflix’s most successful original show. A beautiful homage to 80s entertainment. The perfect blend of nostalgia and story. These phrases are but a few options available to describe the huge Netflix success – Stranger Things. Here, our Conor Murray explains why Stranger Things strikes the perfect chord with fans.
How Did The Duffer Brothers Strike Gold With Stranger Things?
The Duffer Brothers succeeded in creating something that has been sparse in this entire summer of entertainment – originality. One of the many things that Stranger Things on Netflix does so brilliantly is tell a compelling and fresh story, setting it apart from almost every other single piece of content produced in these past few months of 2016.
The one word I’ve seen most associated with Stranger Things is nostalgia. The numerous nods to 80’s classics like E.T., Stand By Me, The Goonies, etc. are delightful but they are all only nods. The core and heart of the story does not rest with the movies it references, it instead strikes a perfect balance between 80’s nostalgia and compelling storytelling. Stranger Things‘ 80s references don’t feel forced, and its 1983 setting not only feels organic but the production design makes the show feel like authentic 80’s entertainment. The show uses a lot of classic 80’s movie moments but instead of the remakes and rehashes we’ve been plagued with this summer this succeeds in telling a familiar but original story. Stranger Things uses the sentimentality of the 80s to give us a warm comforting hug. It allows the audience to feel comfortable in this sci-fi world because it works beautifully as an accompaniment to things like Stephen King novels, and Spielberg classics.
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However, where most TV shows and movies soar or sink is in their characters, and this is exactly where Stranger Things becomes one of the Netflix greats. Every single character on the show is fully fleshed out and given a full and complete story arc for the most part (sorry Barb). We do get character archetypes but the show surprises us when these characters become much more complex and layered than our first impressions give them credit for (in particular Steve). Stranger Things just seems uncannily like counter programming to our options of seeing each and every disappointing sequel this summer.
And yes you could say that our summer has been full of smaller indie movies that have fulfilled every movie-goers wants and needs, but that is not exactly my point. Our summer has definitely had some great movies like Sing Street, Hell or High Water, and Kubo and the Two Strings but these are ones that simply aren’t distributed nor attract a wide audience. Stranger Things fulfills all of these requirements. It is first and foremost a fantastic show with fully realized characters and a refreshingly comforting story. It is just as independently and passionately made as these great indie movies of the summer but yet it has a trump card: Netflix. It’s distribution reaches out to almost everyone because let’s face it everyone knows someone with a Netflix account. Not only has Netflix changed the game when it comes to movies and TV but Stranger Things is definitive proof that they can produce content at such a high quality that it can rival massive TV and movie studios.
Sure, Netflix have had great success with their Marvel shows and House of Cards among others, yet rarely have they produced a success this big with little star power and zero IP.
Stranger Things is exactly what we needed.
We needed a show to liven up this dull summer of entertainment. We needed a show that was innovative and original. This may mean we see a surge in 80s nostalgia driven content, or even in supernatural horror. Yet what this may hopefully mean is that studios take more chances with original content. Maybe even Netflix could become a platform to distribute the excellent original material that unfortunately just can’t make it to all of our cinema screens. The problem is not that the content doesn’t exist it’s just not accessible to the widest audience possible.
If you’re someone who hasn’t bothered with many cinema trips this summer then just relax, throw on Netflix and treat yourself to the best movie of the summer – which just happens to be an 8 part TV series.
What do you think of Netflix’s Stranger Things?
Has the hype gotten your attention?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Conor Murray is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @ConorMurray1888