By: Hannah Bernabe
If you have been living away from the world of social media, you may have seen or heard references to the wonderment of Netflix’s new original series Stranger Things.
Stranger Things is a paranormal sci-fi mystery series that is the creation of twins Matt and Ross Duffer. The show surrounds the disappearance of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and how his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Calen McLaughlin), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) joined forces with a mysterious girl, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The kids and Eleven race against time to save Will from the clutches of the mysterious Hawkins Laboratory, and more importantly, the monster living in the Upside Down.
Other than stellar performances of these young stars, as well as the comeback role for Winona Ryder, what I absolutely loved about Stranger Things is that it glorifies a decade that has given pop culture long-lasting television and film nostalgia. I am not going to pretend that I know what it feels like to live in 1983. However, after watching Stranger Things, there is an instant feeling of being part of that 1980s pop culture universe. That’s what is most profound about this show, and the creators behind it—no matter what age or what generation you are, you have something ton contribute or pay homage to within the Stranger Things world.
Nostalgia is definitely something that I believe has been all too prevalent in television and film today. Audiences have been constantly reintroduced to so many retellings, that if done incorrectly, Stranger Things would’ve fallen under that trope. What is so fascinating is that the Duffer twins did an amazing job using typical 80s plots and 80s stereotypes, all the while having a fresh and modern way of storytelling. There were a few standout references that I knew from childhood, such as dressing up Eleven like Elliot dressed up ET in ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, and the boys walking along train tracks similar to Stand By Me. Other references that I began to notice is the ever present Stephen King-esque kind of horror and suspense, as well as the 80s fascination in the paranormal, by implementing elements of the Demagogue as their monster. My personal favorite? References to Star Wars and Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) exuding some serious Indiana Jones type of swagger.
In retrospect, each ping of nostalgia in Stranger Things adds value to the story rather than just a plug to get older audiences into the fold. Rather than something that handicaps and bottlenecks the show as “just another period piece,” the use of nostalgia is the key to the success of Stranger Things. The use of nostalgia wasn’t just used as a sense of an homage, but nostalgia itself is a character in the story overall.
Season 1 of Stranger Things is up on Netflix today, and it set to come back for Season 2 in 2017.