Netflix original uses 1980s flair as hook

‘Stranger Things’ a chilling tale about a group of friends searching for their missing pal


Special To / The Advocate

“Stranger Things” follows the disappearance of a young boy, and a telekinetic girl who helps his friends in their search, while the boy’s older brother, mother and the town police chief start their own investigations.

By Mike Thomas, Advocate Staff

“Stranger Things” is a chilling tale that keeps viewers hooked on each episode. The show is a suspenseful and intriguing tribute to the 1980s.

“Stranger Things” is like a comic book mixed with 1980s adventure movies like “The Goonies.” The music choice fits the mood well. Hearing great bands like “Toto” and “Jefferson Airplane” during the show is great way to express love for the 1980s. The background techno theme music will touch viewers’ souls. The song is symbolic of the friendship of four outcast boys surviving a 1980s elementary school world and playing “Dungeons and Dragons” in the basement.

The debut season of this Netflix exclusive series features eight episodes. The small town of Hawkins, Ind. is turned upside down when Will Byers, a local 12-year-old boy, mysteriously disappears. Three of his best buddies, Mike, Lucas and Dustin are eager to go on an adventure to find him after playing a 10-hour game of “Dungeons and Dragons.” During the adventure they find a peculiar girl named Eleven. She breaks out of Hawkins Laboratory because she is mistreated. The boys suspect she may know Byers’ whereabouts. Viewers slowly learn that Eleven has powerful psychic abilities.

During their quest to find Byers, the boys’ friendship hits a snag. They start to lose trust in one another when Mike and Eleven’s relationship starts to build. It is hard for Lucas to build trust with her because he is jealous and afraid of losing his best friend. Since Eleven was born and stayed in the lab all of her life, her communication skills are poor. The boys have a hard time understanding her and she has a hard time understanding the boys.

Winona Ryder plays Joyce Byers, Will Byers’ mother. Ryder shows great acting range. She’s known for always playing crazy and obsessive characters in movies. Viewers will feel empathy of a mother losing her child, but at the same time feel like she’s lost her mind. Seeing Ryder play a mom trying to keep it together, shows how far her acting career has come.

David Harbour plays Jim Hopper, a character that plays a key role in the show.  He tries to convince Joyce that the odd things she is seeing and hearing are grief and to tell her he’s experienced the same thing with his daughter’s death. Hopper does everything by the book until an obstacle stands in his way. He is quick to knock someone out cold to gain some evidence.

“Stranger Things” is something different than the average thriller television series with redundant narratives. The show gets stranger as the series progresses. The show is perfect for binge watching.

Some of the other interesting recurring characters should have been developed more, like the boys’ science teacher, Mr. Clarke, who passed a lot of knowledge about physics to the four 12-year-old boys.