Netflix’s Stranger Things – TV Show Review

Created by the Duffer Brothers

There are many universal truths. For example, one does not ever refuse Nutella. One of these truths is this: Netflix’s original content is simply sensational. From Narcos to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s shows, Netflix’s content is evil in the way it forces you to binge on and on.
I’d heard quite a lot about Stranger Things as soon as it was released a couple of weeks ago, and so I decided to check it out. Clocking in at eight fifty-minute-ish episodes, the show centres around a desolate Indiana town and the disappearance of a pre-teen boy, while at the same time, a mysterious pre-teen girl appears. That’s as basic as it can get, really. I’m not going to give away much of the plot because I want everyone to have the greatest viewing experience.
This show may not be a blown out horror – thriller may be a more appropriate genre – but in any case, I’ll tell you why I’m not a fan of horror content. First, I’m not really good with being scared. Second, and more importantly, horror content is usually terrible. It looks really bad, it’s written like rubbish, the characters are all idiots, played by people who apparently cannot act, and the plot makes no sense.
That’s the one thing that I was skeptical about going into this show.
So let me get that out of the way first. Stranger Things is nothing like what I’ve mentioned above. Nowhere close.
This show is set in 1983, like X-Men: Apocalypse was, but unlike that movie, this actually felt like it was 1983. There wasn’t just one out of place Return of the Jedi reference thrown in there. Te time setting, as well as the place, was used to its fullest in this show.
Right after watching episode one, or Chapter One, I put the Duffer Brothers on the map because this is how you direct. The show focuses on two, sometimes three, main stories that are all linked to each other, and the balance between all of them is great. Even more so, the continuity of the series is really good. I was in the middle of episode seven and suddenly I realised that what I was watching – something pretty big – wouldn’t have been possible without the smallest of things that happened in the first episode. In that way, anything that I felt unnecessary at the beginning of the season, I understood its purpose at the end. And I really love that.
This draws me to why I think Netflix is the greatest platform an episodic show can use. Had this actually been a television show, then it would have had to have been 15-23 episodes long, and that would have killed the show. It would have dragged on with loads of filler episodes, and it certainly would have had unnecessary elements in it then. This is true for all Netflix originals – they are only as long as they need to be.
Stranger Things has a largely juvenile set of characters, and the strange (no pun intended) thing is, all the child actors in this show did an amazing job. The stand out for me was definitely Millie Brown, who played the mysterious young girl. She delivered a performance that I didn’t even think was possible out of a child actor. And speaking of the young characters, this show felt really old school in the sense that they had so much chemistry together. It felt something like E.T., and it was a real pleasure to see these relatable, likeable characters interact on screen.
The more mature characters also had strong performances, particularly Winona Ryder’s character, who is the mother of the boy that goes missing. Charlie Heaton and David Harbour – who play her elder son and the police chief of the town, respectively – also contribute quite a lot to the show, despite being supporting characters.
The story may be one that we’ve seen before, but it’s told in a way that separates it from all others, and there isn’t a single minute in which you aren’t invested in what’s happening. And there isn’t a reason at all for me not to recommend watching this, because all the acclaim it has received has been for good reason.
One thing that does confuse me, however, is that Netflix gave this an age rating of 13+. I would argue against that. The show, overall, is more mature than it would appear to be. The scary elements and the gore is very borderline for that rating, and to be honest, anyone younger than 16 really wouldn’t be able to relate to the show much. Anyway, it’s just a rating.
In an age in which the horror genre is equivalent to vomit, this is a breath of fresh air. It doesn’t throw itself in on jump scares and cheap techniques to boost the ‘horror’ feel. It actually creates an environment and atmosphere for that, from beautiful camera work, to tremendous acting, to magnificently composed music. The characters have proper development, back story, motivations and even arcs, something I wasn’t expecting to be as prominent as it was.
After arguably the most satisfying eight episodes I’ve watched in a long time, on a scale where M is the lowest, and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:

Stranger Things: MIHIR

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