While I can't say with complete accuracy that the whole world is talking about the Netflix original series "Stranger Things," I can say that it certainly does feel like they are. Since it's season two release in October, fans have expressed their continued admiration for this television series.
It would be hard to resist watching it, even without all of the social media buzz and inside jokes for people who have seen the show. If you haven't yet ventured down this rabbit hole, I encourage you to, but I personally wanted a deeper understanding of this project and just exactly why so many people were obsessed with it seemingly overnight.
I present to you, a breakdown in which I explore the nuts and bolts of the "Stranger Things" phenomenon, we love it because of it's...
Realistic And Relatable Characters
The characters, although fictional, so closely resemble real people that it’s much easier for an audience to be able to resonate with them. Maybe you find your sense of humor reflected in the playful banter between the kids or you recognize the panic a mom feels when Joyce Byers can't find her son Will.
Real people are complicated, messy, imperfect, flawed, and so are these characters. Even when it comes to Eleven, who is considered to be a supernatural element, she is more humanized by her feelings for Mike and her struggle to learn to understand everything around her.
A Mascot For The World's Outcasts
In the words of Will’s brother Jonathan, “Nobody normal ever accomplished anything meaningful in this world.” Despite the series having a diverse fan-base, there is an undeniable broader appeal to the nerds, outcasts, freaks and misfits of the world.
For, those who were always a little different than other people, who’ve been through great tragedy and who’ve been lost for a while can find comfort in the Stranger Things story-line.
It sends a message that even in the depths of the upside down, all is not lost. Combine this with the copious amounts of sci-fi elements, pop culture references and unsung heroes; it’s a dream come true for any nerd.
Incredible Writing, Character Development And Story Arc
Unless you’re someone who looks beyond the face value of art that’s put in front of you, you may not catch one of the most underappreciated aspects of this show--the writing! It takes more than just actors and cameras to put a TV-show together, and without quality scripts, you aren’t going to get very far.
The writers have to take a vision and lay it all out in the form of words so it can relay to everyone else who is a part of the project. There are numerous examples of sensational writing here, such as the multiple character developments, most notably that of Chief Jim Hopper.
Additionally, there is the borderline-genius story arc that keeps the audience wanting more each time. Writers who use this tool well are known for working on the projects that turn into fan-favorites.
Story arcs work best when you have a denouement in mind and according to the show creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, there is going to be a definite end for the story-line and all its characters.
Thinking about that this early on may damper the mood for some fans, but The Duffers have given us an estimate of taking us all on this journey for about "four or five seasons."
Haze Of Nostalgia And Homage To A Simpler Time
In a world where everything is so digital and de-humanized it’s only natural for some people to have a longing for the more straightforward and arguably happier times of their childhood. Older viewers can reminisce while teaching their younger counterparts all about how things were back in the day.
Whether you were a child of the '80s or not, there's still something special about anything from that era. This is why it's particularly exciting for fans who have spotted several connections to other classic films and more in the series.
Focus On Friendship, Family And Redemption
Not many kids today would find a random bald girl wandering around the woods and instantly bring her home and feed her Eggo waffles, but Mike Wheeler was a good friend.
Whether it was searching for Will or helping the town of Hawkins survive a Demogorgon invasion, friendship and family played a prominent role in this story-line. Redemption was another common thread throughout seasons one and two with Eleven closing the gate after being the one to open it in the first place and Chief Hopper saving Will after being unable to do so with his daughter Sara.
Ability To Let The Fans Play Detective
If you've ever enjoyed watching the mystery or crime-solving types of entertainment where the audience can put the evidence together as they are watching, then you are definitely going to be a fan of Stranger Things.
There is an incredible combination of hidden gems of information, foreshadowing, cliffhangers, flashbacks and moments left open for speculation that keep fans on their toes and with their thinking caps on.
One of the most talked about instances of this is when fans spotted the detail of Chief Hopper giving his bracelet to Eleven at the end of season two. After some investigating, it was further revealed that the bracelet was formally a hair tie belonging to his deceased daughter Sara.
Speculations and theories have already been spread about what this means for season three as well as other questions or pieces of the puzzle we are waiting to have answered and wrap together.
Ability To Find Humor During Even The Worst Of Times
Adding humor to an episode can sometimes be the perfect pinch of salt on a good pot roast, and that's exactly what happened in the case of this show. Although the town of Hawkins is under attack and there's some mostly unknown evil lurking out there, fans can still get a chuckle out of some well placed zingy one-liners or moments of great sarcastic attitude.
One of my personal favorites happens in season two when Dustin is looking for all of his friends, who are currently MIA, and he goes to The Wheeler's residence. Dustin gets this typical dad response from Mr. Wheeler after he relays that his children are elsewhere.
Incredibly Talented Cast And Crew
It goes without saying that there are several talented people in Hollywood but I believe the cream of the crop was picked for these specific roles. It's really gratifying for fans to see one of the most iconic '90s actresses, Winona Ryder, bring our love for her back to the present and to witness the well-versed actor, David Harbour, finally getting the leading man spotlight he deserves.
Aside from the two main adult leads, there are also all the younger cast members who have been praised repeatedly for their performance and amount of professionalism.
No one might have expected such excellence from such young artists, but that's part of the shock and excite value they brought to this series. Putting them all together has given us a cast known for their grace, humility and dedication to their art.
It's Inspired A Movement
All of these seemingly little things have added up to make this television series into a globally recognized masterpiece that fans will love for a long time to come. But even though there are infinite reasons to admire great pieces of work like this that we could analyze all day long, I believe it can be simplified into one main idea. We choose to love the stories that empower us.
It's the acknowledgement that we're not too weird because as different as Eleven was she still found friends of her own or that maybe we can make mistakes and still be a good parent like Hopper and Joyce. We see a reflection of ourselves in the characters we love most and in the journey they lead us on and it makes us realize that the ups and downs of life are all just a part of our own story arc. Admittedly, I could be wrong in my theory of this, but stranger things have happened.