Every now and then, a show takes over the news feed of nearly every social media channel. It’s all people can talk about, and if you’re not watching it, you feel left out. Your co-workers, your kids, all of your friends, and even your parents are watching this phenomenal new show that you’re completely in the dark about. These days, that show is a Netflix original mini-series that has accomplished the feat of grasping America’s attention. If you’re into streaming, and you’ve been on Facebook in the past two weeks, then you’ve, at least, heard about Stranger Things.
This show, spread out over eight fascinating episodes, brings to the table a unique mix of horror, sci-fi, and thriller without taking any of the usual shortcuts. Fans of the eighties will love the throwback to the simpler days of horrific fashion, but excellent music, while fans of the aforementioned genres will love it simply for its widespread appeal. The show is a powerhouse, topping the charts as the number one original digital content show, and number two of all shows, sliding in just under Game of Thrones with an astounding estimate of 44M digital viewers, nearly 30M more than what Orange is the New Black has attracted with its current season.
Stranger Things resurrects the fabulous Winona Ryder’s career, as she plays a harrowed, hard-working, single mom of a child who has gone missing. Her performance is realistic and heartfelt and will make you remember why you fell in love with her in the eighties and nineties, and have missed her since her last feature film. As a viewer, you feel every bit of her sorrow, her fear, and her hopelessness through the course of the eight episodes, but the real winners are the child members of the cast.
The plotline of the show centers around the search for the young Will Byers, who goes missing following a rowdy game of Dungeons and Dragons with his three best friends. While searching for Will, his friends Mike, Dustin, and Lucas happen upon a strange little girl with a shaved head and a hospital gown, who goes by the name of Eleven. Through the course of the show, these four form an incredible bond and show off their acting chops in the process. They do such a stellar job capturing the innocence of youth in combination with the defiance that only preteen boys can muster.
When the show premiered in mid-July, people immediately hunkered down on the couch and ripped through all eight episodes. Originally mistaken for a Stephen King production, due in large part to the font choice of the title cards, the show’s reputation preceded itself. Netflix was brilliant in their release of a teaser trailer in the beginning of June, knowing that streaming fans were awaiting the launch of the fourth season of OITNB, and it bowled us over. Equal parts E.T. and eighties horror, the show promised to be worth the month-long wait from its first trailer’s launch.
The Duffer Brothers, the show’s creators, were clearly heavily influenced by Stephen King’s early work. Making the choice to use a font that King fancies for the title card of the show was a brilliant maneuver on their part, as many people believed the series to be the next big thing from The Master of Horror. The author himself has awarded the show an A+, which is high praise, considering he’s a notoriously hard to please critic. By using a formula that includes ordinary kids struggling to fight extraordinary things, they clinched the viewership from fans of King’s writing.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not the series will be worth your time, as most critical darlings aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll get to see what all the fuss is about. It’s worth the eight hours you’ll spend telling yourself you’ll go to bed after just one more episode. It’s that good, and it lays the groundwork for a second season. The current cast has said they would love the come back for a second season if Netflix is game, and the Duffer brothers agree that they still have a story to tell.
The series also provides hope to those cutting the cord from cable providers, as its success increases the potential for more programming of its kind. The fact that it’s nearly level with the viewership of a major network’s number one show is huge news for both Netflix and other streaming services. It means that this type of program may be the wave of the future, and we’re that much closer to separating ourselves from the overwhelming fees associated with monthly cable bills.