One of the most popular trends in media and entertainment right now is playing on the nostalgia of older millennials. You know, the kids that experienced geek culture and made it the explosion in pop culture that it is today. Many Hollywood types have tried and very few can say with honest certainty that they succeeded. It is the most difficult to produce without an enormous amount of scrutiny. Just ask Michael Bay.
However, in this dark limbo of almost bad remakes and really bad nostalgia pieces lies the occasional rare gem.
Say you take some beloved eighties classics, like E.T. and The Goonies. Then you add a little bit of horror and after some mixing by the Duffer Brothers. An amazing story emerges called Stranger Things. Netflix’s new original series is sure to bring back all the things you loved about eighties cinema; the friendships, the mystery, and the music. Stranger Things follows the strange happenings surrounding the community of Hawkins, Indiana circa November 1983.
After some sketchy Steven Spielberg-esque government shenanigans at the Hawkins National Laboratory, which involves some evil creature, we are introduced to our rag-tag group of protagonists, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will. Like most 80s nerds they are in the midst of an intense campaign of Dungeons and Dragons when we first enter their lives. Roll to cast fireball!
The real campaign begins when Will goes missing, thus bringing in other characters to help in the search: Joyce and Jonathan, Will’s mother and brother; Jim Hopper, the police chief; and Nancy, Mike’s older sister. We are also introduced to Eleven, or El as she fondly becomes, who has been described as a combination of Stephen King’s Carrie and Charlie from Firestarter. It is a very accurate description as she herself seems to come from the same government facility, not to mention her intense telekinetic abilities.
El joins the ranks of the remaining boys: Mike who clearly is having his first pre-teen crush, Lucas who doesn’t completely trust El, and Dustin who is just really excited to have a friend with super powers. After some warming up, she divulges to the group that Will is hiding from the creature in a place called The Upside Down. Through this story, we are also shown flashbacks to El’s life in the Laboratory and what her powers were used for, specifically opening the gateway to The Upside Down.
While the boy’s adventures occur we also have the stories of Joyce, Hopper, Nancy, and Jonathan as they each experience their own haunting discoveries in the search for Will. From communicating with Will through the hanging of many Christmas lights to learning what is really happening at the Hawkins National Laboratory, they discover there is more going on then what they are being told.
Everything converges when the government men searching for El discover she has been staying with Mike. An amazing bicycle chase scene a la E.T. ensues, and they all meet up with Joyce, Hopper, Nancy, and Jonathan. El agrees to use her ability to communicate with Will and find his exact location in the Upside Down so that Joyce and Hopper can return to the Laboratory to bring him back.
As each episode ends, and the nostalgia and adrenaline become more and more heightened, you find yourself perched on the edge of your couch remote in hand. You wonder how this series could possibly be only eight episodes long. And sadly that is the one downside, how quickly you fall in love with it and the ending catching up with you far too soon.
But, will there be a season two? According to Netflix, that is a definite yes.
It is pretty evident that the popularity surrounding the sci-fi/horror series makes a second season a foregone conclusion, and twin brothers and creators of Stranger Things, Matt and Ross Duffer, have already been preparing for the show’s inevitable second season. They know where they want it to pick up and that it will be much darker than the first season, possibly a more in-depth look at what The Upside Down is? One thing is for certain, it’s going to be a difficult wait. Thankfully, there is no limit to the number of times you can re-watch season one, so grab your d20, roll initiative, and begin your own campaign in watching every episode.