AUSTIN VAN PAY | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST
If you’ve paid attention to new TV shows the last few months or talked to any Netflix user recently, you’ve probably heard about “Stranger Things.” This show is a satisfying and excellent homage to the Stephen King novels and Spielberg films of the 1980s. It’s an eight-episode series that’s emotionally strong and engrossing with its throwback vibe.
“Stranger Things” takes place in a small Indiana town in 1983 and centers around the very strange disappearance of a young boy named Will. At the same time as Will’s disappearance, a young girl dubbed Eleven arrives mysteriously in the town and is found by Will’s friends Mike, Dustin and Lucas. These boys soon find out that Eleven isn’t an ordinary girl and possess superhuman abilities and a very mysterious past.
While the boys are discovering more about Eleven, Will’s mother, Joyce, and older brother, Jonathan, are going to extreme lengths to try to find him and figure out what is really going on. They soon discover in the process that other incredible and mystifying things are occurring in their small town which they can’t truly comprehend.
From the opening credits, you instantly feel the 80s influences infused within the show. It’s clear that the series creators, the Duffer Brothers, have an immense love for the style, and they pull it off perfectly. The kids’ conversations, interactions and bike rides through their neighborhood all feel like something Spielberg himself would’ve made. There’s a sense of atmosphere and mystery that grips you and doesn’t let go. From episode to episode, the show makes you want to discover more and also see these characters prove to everyone that these strange things are real.
What truly makes this show great are Will’s three friends. They are very funny, likeable, relatable and, best of all, they actually feel like real kids! They curse, make fun of each other and even abruptly end conversations just like kids do. Their dialogue always feels natural, and it’s an absolute joy to watch them. Dustin, played by Gaten Matarazzo, is hilarious, and Millie Bobby Brown gives a top-notch and touching performance as the mysterious and quiet Eleven. Every casting choice fits so well, and you can see how hard the directors worked to pick the right actors for the job.
I also found the other characers very engaging and relatable. Mike’s sister Nancy and Will’s brother Jonathan show good chemistry together, and Will’s mother, played by Winona Ryder, comes into her role excellently as the plot progresses. One of the most interesting progressions, though, occurs with Sheriff Hopper, played by David Harbour. His performance and story were emotionally strong and made a big impact on my perspective of his character.
“Stranger Things” is a fantastic love letter to the great works of the 1980s and not only matches the tone and style of this time but also gives us great characters, mystery and an emotional story of friendship and family. The Duffer brothers have done an excellent job of crafting an atmospheric and engaging series that isn’t just a simple copy of Spielberg or Stephen King. I can’t wait to see where the story continues ,and I’m ready for more adventures with this fantastic group of kids.