It has been over a month since I first watched Stranger Things the day after it was released on Netflix. I had plans to hang out with a friend but it had been a long and busy week and so I decided to stay in and just relax. [Side Note: Quick shout out to awesome friends who are completely understanding if you cancel plans because your introverted self needs some time on your own, even when they know that all you’re doing is sitting around in your pajamas and watching TV while most likely partaking in some ice cream.]
I wanted to write about it when I first watched it but as it was during a time when I was unable to do the thing with words in which you write them out and they tell people things, I never got around to it. And then, I have this thing that if too much time passes, I feel as if I can’t write about anything anymore. With a show on Netflix, people tend to binge-watch it, talk excitedly about it for a week, and then any kind of buzz goes away because anyone who really was going to watch it passionately has ultimately already seen it.
But not with Stranger Things. If anything, it started off with almost no buzz (my opinion) and just has gotten bigger since it came out. It takes place in a small town of Indiana in 1983 and is about a boy who goes missing and the people in the boy’s life that try to find out what happened to him. Meanwhile, a young girl mysteriously shows up and there may be a connection between her and the missing boy.
The show is just 8 episodes for the season at less than an hour per episode, the length of which ensures that no episode is filler as the story moves along at a pace where things actually happen. Also, the 8 episodes allow for one to binge without having to compromise one’s hygiene.
One more episode…
There are so many reasons why I have become so attached to Stranger Things. One of the reasons is that the boys in it seem like real-life boys who are the best of friends, never coming across as actors playing parts. They reminded me so much of the kids from Stand By Me that I loved the show based on just that. And then when I read that the kids auditioned using scenes from Stand By Me… that made the show that much more awesome for me.
There’s a line in Stand By Me where the character Gordie as an adult types out on his computer: I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone? *
[Sits down in rocking chair, rocking back and forth, whittling] When I was 12, I was in a junior high school that most of the kids from my elementary school did not transfer to so I had to find new friends. I was never good at the friend thing though and it took a while but that was fine because the school library was well stocked with books. That was the grade when I got into Dean Koontz and Stephen King. King is definitely noted as as a major influence for some of the material in Stranger Things, but it was one book by Koontz that was the first time I learned about something that turned out to be a major part of Stranger Things (purposely keeping it vague here as to not spoil anything). In essence, Stranger Things represents a lot of the stuff I used to read when I was the age of the main characters.
Stranger Things is one of those rare shows that improves upon reflection. I liked it plenty when I first watched it but there’s something about it that makes it better as time passes. Only afterwards do you realize that there were so many opportunities for this show to have gone the way of cliché with its premise and characters and yet it deftly dodges it all. Even the setting of 1983 could have come across as dated but instead, it all feels fresh. If you haven’t watched it yet and don’t get creeped out too easily, check it out.
Random Confession: One 80s film that is hard not to acknowledge as an influence for Stranger Things is E.T., the quintessential Steven Spielberg movie about a boy and an alien. While most people my age have a fondness for this movie as it was something they may have watched multiple times when they were a kid, I only recently watched E.T. in its entirety. I had always associated the film as something I watched at fundraisers – where there was a separate room deemed “babysitting” in which the organizers would put on this movie for kids and call it a day. I actually grew to have a dislike of the film because it reminded me of boring events where my siblings and I were sequestered into a nondescript room with a TV and VCR that played E.T. with a bunch of other kids at the event. Fun times.
*Forgive me, I don’t remember if that line was originally in Stephen King’s story The Body, which Stand By Me is adapted from, and my copy of it is somewhere too far away from me at the moment to check it.