Stranger Things is one of the hottest new series on Netflix this year. My wife and I don’t always overlap in tastes, but this show drew us both in. We zoomed through the series in late night sittings, and I honestly can’t wait until my son is old enough to watch it with us. Even Stephen King, the childhood horror version of literary Wheaties for me growing up, thinks Stranger Things is worth some time:
Stevie, Kerry and I are not alone in loving this show. It has a Rotten Tomatoes ranking of 95%, and is the 3rd most watched series on Netflix behind Orange is the New Black and, well, I don’t know how to say this: Fuller House.
So it’s obvious that fan quality isn’t everything, there are a few reasons for its massive popularity, I think. The hero–I think she’s a hero though we won’t know until next season–is a scientific experiment gone bad, a young girl we know of as “Eleven” who has significant telekinetic and telepathic powers. The group of friends she makes–an awkward Scooby Gang of preteen losers–are an endearing and awkward set of bumbling prepubescent heroes with a strong sense of morality and loyalty but with very few weapons. The mystery runs through a narrative arc of 8 episodes, and though it was a rushed ending, I was left wanting more.
It isn’t just the tale and the characters, though. The entire show is designed as a second baptism in 1980s popular culture. Set in 1983, the design of the show is brilliant, from its Lucas-Spielberg posters, to its creepy theme song and faux-future lettering, to every little detail of technology, music, and fashion. This thriller is designed for anyone who once played Dungeons & Dragons, collected comic books, saved up their money to see pants-wetting thrillers at the Drive-in, and who read Stephen King with a flashlight underneath E.T. sheets while mom and dad ate Jiffy Pop in front of The Twilight Zone.
As part of Signum University’s 2016 Fall Campaign Webathon Dr. Corey Olsen and I hosted a Live Video Session. This informal podcast chat ranged from SF/Fantasy genre mashups to 80s pop culture to character development and empathy. Now it is available for free at the SignumU Youtube channel. Check out the embed below, and let me know what you thought of the series.