It’s been months since Stranger Things turned our worlds upside down, and yet people are still raving about it, re-watching the entire season, making viral memes, and formulating their own speculations about the second season. So if you’re still wondering why people have a sudden craving for waffles or why they randomly shout names at Christmas lights (especially now that the holidays are fast-approaching and Christmas lights are everywhere), don’t be a stranger to these kinds of things—unlock this door of curiosity and go binge-watch Netflix’s unexpected hit ASAP. Don’t wait until a Demogorgon comes knocking on your wall.
There are so many factors why Stranger Things clicked to a worldwide audience, from its eerie tone, to the chemistry between characters, and the well-written dialogue. Allow us to punch a hole through dimensions and find the common ground why Stranger Things took over our lives.
1. The Duffer Brothers
Within just the first few minutes of watching, you’d think that Stranger Things was a dream project helmed by Steven Spielberg, written by Stephen King, and scored by John Carpenter. You’d never think that this sleeper hit was created by twin brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, whose resume only boasts, two short films, one full-length film, and writing credits for M. Night Shyamalan’s FOX series Wayward Pines.
Apparently, around 15-20 networks rejected this thrilling supernatural horror, ‘cause they had a hard time envisioning four kids starring in an adult story; luckily, co-executive producers Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen saw the potential. Even though the Duffer Brothers worked around a tight budget for the series, the duo managed to drive their visual concept through their boundless imagination—and to say that it paid off is an understatement.
2. Fresh Nostalgia
Although it clearly pays homage to all the sci-fi and horror greats—classics like Poltergeist, The Goonies, E.T., Stephen King’s It, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind quickly come to mind—Stranger Things doesn’t feel too derivative. Clearly, they’re nerds. They even used a rubber suit for the Demogorgon, just like how they did it in the 1980s. But what sets this apart from being called a rip-off is its clever use of the genre. Instead of reinventing the genre wheel to win over viewers, The Duffer Brothers managed to create a tapestry of pre-existing ideas and turned it into an interesting plot that’s not too convoluted, unlike most series today.
Though this dark tale takes us back to the ‘80s, with its ill-fitting wardrobe, movie posters plastered on the kids’ rooms, and the element of Dungeons & Dragons in it, its nostalgia was actually the least interesting bit about it. The Duffer Brothers have skillfully written stories about characters we actually care about, characters who weren’t just all about unearthing the terrors lurking in their town, but characters who were also in the process of discovering things about themselves and their relationships with each other. It’s truly a refreshing take on a manner of storytelling that we’ve all seen before.
3. Haunting Soundtrack
Of all the early ‘80s hits we could’ve heard in this series, from Blondie’s “Call Me” and Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” to Hall & Oates “Maneater” and Men at Work’s “Down Under,” we get an absolute punk classic from The Clash: “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” It was from one of the tender scenes shared between Jonathan and his brother Will, and the track soon became a staple on our playlists.
Aside from Jonathan Byer’s jam, one thing that’s great about Stranger Things is that you can never skip its hypnotizing red-on-black fuzzy opening credits. But apart from its credit sequence theme song, the show’s entire score, created Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the Austin band S U R V I V E, was definitely icing on top. Drawing close to the wonderful synths produced by the likes of John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream, fellow newbies Dixon and Stein provided the perfect eerie, nostalgic music for those hair-raising scenes, giving that authentic ‘80s feel.
4. Amazing young cast
Though Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers and David Harbour as Chief Jim Hopper both displayed moving performances that gave the series a necessary grounding, it was the fresh faces that clearly stood out. The chemistry between Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), and Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson) was at the core of the show, and while the trio worked so well together, they also managed to stand out individually. Though he wasn’t in it much Noah Schnapp (Will Byers) still had a commanding presence every time he was on screen.
Teenagers Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), and Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler) were also factors that helped shape the plot, and of course, everyone was able to relate to the cult icon that is Barb, played by Shannon Purser. But the irrefutable standout was Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. Working with just a few lines, Millie gave life to Eleven through displaying a moving stage presence that only a few seasoned actors could pull off. She’s definitely one to watch out for.
Major spoilers ahead: Whose mind didn’t blow when Hopper discovered that Will’s dead body was fake, or when Eleven found out that Barb (#JusticeForBarb) was... gone? Even Nancy ending up with Steve with good hair instead of Jonathan was a tad shocking. Mixed with a good balance of humor and horror, the way Stranger Things was written kept us at the edge of our seats as it gave enough answers to the mysteries that was unfolding right before our eyes, yet it still managed to hold back just enough to keep the ball rolling.
As we got to know the characters one by one, we also witnessed the bigger picture that was right in front of us all along. While this season only provided us with eight episodes, it still gave the audience a satisfying conclusion—until the last second.
6. Cliffhanger ending
Aside from sending us into a binge-watching withdrawal, the final seconds of the last episode made our jaws drop and raised a lot of questions. Is Eleven still alive? Does the Demogorgon still exist? Is the Demogorgon and Eleven just one person? What was the conversation that Hopper had in that car? Will Dustin get his teeth back soon? Did Joyce get a new telephone? And will there ever be #JusticeForBarb?
In case you haven’t heard, season two has already been confirmed. There are even rumors that the cast has started filming for it. So far, here’s what we know about the much-awaited second season: As season one takes place over the course of six to seven days, the following season has been confirmed to tackle the repercussions of everything that happened—so it’s definitely a sequel, not a new story. Most of the first season’s cast would return and will be joined by a few new characters, with strong female characters, to be specific. Despite the fatal attack experienced by Dr. Martin Brenner, The Duffer Brothers have revealed that Papa would be back to the show—probably to give him a more satisfying death. Lastly, remember the Eggos that Hopper offered towards the end? David Harbour recently revealed in an interview that those were definitely for Eleven as his character Chief Hopper believes that Eleven exists in some form. And that’s all for now. In the meantime, stay away from mouth breathers.
ALSO READ: Daily Diaries: 10 Powerful Quotes From House of Cards’ Frank Underwood For Every Situation
Photographs courtesy of Netflix