Just as word-of-mouth and social media buzz for Netflix’s newest series Stranger Things was picking up I was blessed with a rainy summer weekend allowing me to marathon the show guilt-free. And boy was it a satisfying marathon. With just eight episodes it was not only an easy watch but also a tight story with well developed characters and little filler.
If that vague praise wasn’t enough to convince your to put Stranger Things at the top of your Netflix queue, then here’s three solid reasons to watch:
Set in 1983, Stranger Things isn’t just a love letter to the 80s but an immersive time machine for anyone who grew up in that decade. The series pays homage to the horror and coming-of-age movies of the time like Poltergeist, E.T., Stand by Me, The Goonies, and many more (here’s a list of all the films it references) while also managing to feel fresh in the age of remakes and reboots.
But the series is much more than an 80s movie look-alike, it also hits the nostalgia sweetspot. And while I’m more of a 90s kid, apparently any movie or TV show with kids having adventures on bicycles is my jam and Stranger Things does that well. In fact, NPR’s Glen Weldon places it firmly in the “Kids on Bikes” science fiction subgenre, which is characterized by a specific time, place, and of course bicycles. Basically, if you had a cell phone-free childhood and your bike was one of your most prized possessions, this show will give you all the feels.
I’ve talked about it before, how it’s hard to do horror well on TV, but Stranger Things succeeds where most don’t. That’s probably in part because it so closely follows the blueprints of classic horror films, which didn’t rely on gore and gratuitous violence to elicit an emotional or physical response. Instead, Stranger Things relies on its cinematography, performances, and created mythos to do the legwork.
In the same vain, Stranger Things is best enjoyed with the lights off. There are bad guys and things do go bump in the night. Good luck going to bed after watching any number of episodes.
Between its soundtrack and score, Stranger Things kills it on the auditory front too. It’s synth heavy score sets the mood and builds the suspense, while its period-centric soundtrack featuring the likes of The Clash, Foreigner, and Joy Division amp up the nostalgia factor.
A Stranger Things soundtrack featuring its original score is coming soon, but Netflix has also so kindly created a spotify playlist featuring its more well-known tracks so you can enjoy the 80s even after you finish binge watching the series.