After hearing so many people rave about Stranger Things, I decided to watch the new Netflix original series.
The blurb on Netflix describes the show as follows: “When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl.”
That’s probably the most succinct description that can be given about the show. Anything more takes quite a while to explain, and would probably give away severe spoilers. Since much of the show revolves around connecting the dots in the mystery, any sort of information can give away huge plot points.
My spoiler-free and condensed opinion of Stranger Things is that it was pretty good: not great, not bad, just good. The people who consider it one of the best suspense dramas they’ve ever seen are probably just disillusioned by the 80’s nostalgia. Maybe I’m missing something, but I wouldn’t even put it high on my list of favorite Netflix original programming. If you have the time, watch it. I can’t say that it wasn’t entertaining. However, don’t buy into the ridiculous hype about the show. It might be good, but it’s not THAT good.
NOTE: SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
The plot was painfully slow to start in my mind. You’re given a lot of loose ends during the first few episodes, but nothing seems even remotely connected until probably halfway through the (admittedly quite short) first season. Once things really kick off and the narrative is driving forward, the plot is actually really good. Getting there, however, is confusing and slightly painful. You will feel like you’re missing something; don’t worry, they’ll get to it in time.
Overall, Stranger Things has a pretty solid plot. There are elements of mystery, several characters have compelling backstories, and the events seem believable (at least in a fantasy world). Some parts are on obvious display, but a lot of the story is given in hints and clues, allowing viewers to put it together in their own minds.
By the end of the first season, there are some plot points left open, but nothing that I would call a cliffhanger. For the most part, the story is wrapped up nicely, in a way that I feel most people should be content. The families are back together, no more monster terrorizing the town, and everyone is enjoying Christmas. I much prefer a few loose ends that *allow* for season 2, rather than abrupt cliffhanger that *requires* another season. With the way season 1 ends, a transition into season 2 would feel much more organic and natural.
Cast and Acting
If I can give any specific praise to Stranger Things, I have to say that the acting was amazing, especially the main trio of kids. Their behaviors, reactions, personalities… they’re all extremely believable. I obviously wasn’t around for the 1980’s, but this seems like a genuine group of nerdy AV club kids, and how they would be in such a situation. I genuinely felt bad for characters who were bullied, and had actual frustration for characters who were just mean. They all did a stellar job playing their roles.
All things considered, Stranger Things gets a 4 out of 5 from me. It was good, not great. I will say with absolute confidence, they did an immaculate job of emulating 80’s film and television. However, emulating 80’s TV does not make an automatically great show. I hear so many people praise the complex atmosphere, the engaging characters, and the fantastic acting, and to an extent I have to agree with them. However, I just can’t say that it was great to the point of raving about. It wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t bad, it was just good.
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