It took me less than a week to get through the totally brilliant, nostalgically spooky, insanely addictive series Stranger Things on Netflix, but with only eight episodes, you could easily do it in a weekend. A day, even. Guys, I’m not advocating calling in sick, but, just saying…
Anyway, I LOVED it. It feels like something you should have watched years ago, or something you maybe DID watch in the ‘80s, such is its familiarity. The cast of mostly unknowns with a few familiar faces is PERFECT. And the sort of sci-fi story isn’t geeky enough to be off-putting, or scary enough to make you actually hide behind the curtains, but it will definitely have you on the edge of your seat and maybe even turning the hall light on when you go to the loo.
Here’s why I think you should watch it too. Like, now. (no spoilers, I promise)
1. Millie Bobby Brown
12-year-old Millie totally stole the show for me. I mean, the rest of the cast is brilliant, but this girl is extraordinary. She plays Eleven, a slightly “different’ girl, shall we say (you’ll find out why when you watch it). Other than acting her socks off to the point where an Oscar must be on the cards in a few years, she also had the balls to let them shave her head for the role. Oh, and she attended the season premier in a ball gown and Converse. LOVE her.
2. The ‘80s
The show is set in 1983, and if it reminds you of many of your favourite films from thirty-odd years ago – E.T., The Goonies, Stand By Me, Poltergeist – that’s because when the Duffer Brothers (the show’s creators) had the idea to make Stranger Things, they tested it out by cutting together clips from more than 25 movies from that era. They also made all the kids in the show watch them. And it’s so sensitively done that it never feels like a rip-off; always an affectionate tribute.
3. Steven Spielberg Vibes
By far and away the biggest influence on the Duffer Brothers appears to be Steven Spielberg. The foggy, low lighting is all Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the kids go everywhere on their bikes, Goonies-style, and there’s even a point when Mike hides Eleven from his mom by sticking her in a cupboard, and then dressing her up in a pale pink dress and a blonde wig. E.T., anyone?
4. The Artwork
Oh, and the poster looks just like the original Star Wars posters. Good enough to frame and pop on your wall.
5. The Kids
I’ve always admired Steven Spielberg for casting amazing child actors, and Stranger Things is no different. In addition to Millie Bobby Brown, there’s Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) and Noah Schnapp (Will). Check out those on-brand ‘80s character names, too.
6. Winona Ryder
It makes perfect sense in this nostalgia-fest to cast someone like Winona to play Joyce, the mother of mysteriously missing child Will. She requested that her character’s hair looked like Meryl Streep’s in the film Silkwood. And it totally did.
7. The One That Looks A Bit Like Christian Slater
British actor Charlie Heaton plays missing boy Will’s older brother Jonathan, a slightly troubled outsider at high school, and a role that Christian Slater would DEF have been up for if this had actually been made in the ‘80s. Not that we’d swap Charlie for Christian. He does a great job of being broody.
8. The Classic High School Angst Scenes
The outcast. The joker. The jock. The nerdy but beautiful girl who goes out with the jock. You just don’t get these kinds of characters anymore. I miss them. Which brings me to…
You’ll find out about Barb. Pretty in Pink's Andie meets The Goonies' Stef. Total ‘80s stereotype legend. Poor Barb.
10. Steve’s Nike Trainers
Nothing says ‘80s teenager like a pair of white Nikes with a red swoosh. I’m pretty certain Steve’s were Cortez, as seen on Forrest Gump, but Marty McFly in Back To The Future wears a similar style, the Nike All Court Low.
11. All The Other Amazing Retro Trainers
Sneaker heads will spend a lot of time looking at characters’ feet. I was particularly taken with Mike’s Pumas.
12. The Typeface
The opening credits are in a typeface inspired by the work of Richard Greenberg, the guy responsible for the opening credits in Superman and Alien.
13. The Music
The theme tune is that kind of music, like The X-Files, that you are likely to develop a little dance to. Or is that just me and Mr Rochell?! It’s instantly iconic, like Twin Peaks. In fact, the music all the way through the show is so good that it’s just been announced that the soundtrack will be released. Can’t wait.
Now I just have to sit about and wait for season 2...