I finished Stranger Things. I have to say this is the greatest television show I have ever watched. Seriously, once it was done I stripped off all of my clothes and ran into my back yard and sang with squirrels.
Think the fanboys have quit reading by now?
We watched the series behind the rest of the world, so our minds were already intoxicated with endless positive reviews. In fact, it seems that people are figuratively tripping over themselves to praise this show—and they do make several valid points. The show is so steeped in 80s/early 90s nostalgia that there is a link that most people will have with some aspect of the show. The show is not perfect, however, and I figure that I may as well discuss some of the issues I had with it.
The show simply could have been shorter. A six-episode series would have been much tighter. Too many episodes contained empty scenes that served to fluff time. (The entirety of episode six could have been done in about 3 minutes I think). The concern over the amount of episodes often goes in the wrong direction. Notice how The Walking Dead was less of a boring clusterfuck when the season lasted six episodes? Eight episodes seems to be a standard anymore for more serious, serialized shows. I don’t fully understand why. As viewers, we should demand quality over quantity.
The directing and acting are competent within the series. Though the show falls into the trap that almost all narratives from the period: where the hell are the parents? Seriously, why were Mike’s parents afraid of the damn staircase? Oddly, this annoying factor (for me) actually worked as another type of nostalgia as parents were always absent in the 80s classics.
The kids are the best part. Making that statement is nothing new, but I think the reason is fairly simple. The creators of Stranger Things are in many ways creating a mashup of several other narratives. Stephen King being one of their clear references. King’s novels focus on children, often special needs, and he makes them fully formed characters. The Duffer Brothers seem to have taken King’s lesson, but neglected the adults, which sometimes King does, too.
Further, the show has a gender problem. You may wish to accuse me of reading too much into it, and you are entitled to do so. Nancy befriends someone who spies on her, which is problematic. Worse yet, after being publically humiliated and slut-shamed she forgives Douchebag-McGee for no real reason. Much of her arc seemed to serve as a reaffirmation of poor representation within narrative—a sad nostalgia to see rebirthing.
I would score the first season of Stranger Things a 7.75/10. My reasons are that the show transcends from its genre basing into something more widely appealing. Many people will purchase and re-watch this series, and will probably get something out of multiple viewings. What holds the show back is the fact that roughly 15% of the show is skippable, inconsistent characters, and some poor choices in narrative. Overall, I would recommend this series to anyone who has even a minimal interest in adventure/horror/fantasy/mystery shows.