Staff Picks: Stranger Things

Aliens, otherworldly dimensions and superpowers. The ‘80s were a wild era, but not nearly as extraordinary as the world the Duffer brothers created in their hit  show “Stranger Things.” The two part sci-fi thriller has captured a cult-like following over two years on Netflix. 

“Stranger Things” takes place in  Hawkins, Ind. The story focuses on a group of friends named Will (Noah Schnapp), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard). The first season of the show focuses on Will’s mysterious disappearance and the equally mystifying Department of Energy laboratory. Most of the episodes feature the friends going on adventures to find Will. The plot is given a new dimension by the arrival of an abandoned girl with no name. When the rest of the boys learn of her strange telekinetic abilities, they name her Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). 

The first few episodes are very predictable, and the show begins to feel like a generic ‘80s sci-fi movie. However, Eleven’s supernatural powers add an entirely different aspect to the show. Also, Hawkins’ police chief, Hopper (David Harbour), is a standout character due to his humor and bravery. 

Ranging from the setting, plot and characters, “Stranger Things” is a scary show. The existence of the Department of Energy lab casts a looming shadow of mystery over Hawkins. The suspense created in each episode keeps viewers engaged and clueless about what will happen next. 

Mike and the other children are infatuated with Ghostbusters, arcades, biking and board games while the high school kids are interested in loud music and mischief. For older audiences, Hawkins is a dose of nostalgia, while younger audiences can see it as an intriguing window into the past. 

Season Two of “Stranger Things” centers on Will’s strange connection to the alternate dimension in which he was once trapped. Meanwhile, two new characters are introduced. Billy (Dacre Montgomery) is glorified by his classmates for his nonchalant and mischievous attitude, but Max (Sadie Sink) has a much tougher time fitting into the group of boys. The citizens of Hawkins and the scientists of the Department of Energy lab also are forced to work together to save Will and the world as they know it. 

Season Two stands out due to its expansion of characters. Season One was bogged down by world-building, an introduction to basic characters and simple plot creation. Now that viewers have a basic understanding of Hawkins, Season Two can introduce extremely engaging side characters. Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser), head of the secret lab in Hawkins, is a prime example of the Duffer brothers’ extraordinary talent in character development. In the beginning of the season, Owens is an unhelpful character that provides treatment for Will’s condition, but, by the end of the season, the viewers can see Owens’ motivations, and he is viewed as a hero and an integral character. 

Overall, “Stranger Things” is a must-watch show. Its element of horror fused with its outstanding characters and world-building makes it one of the best shows on Netflix.

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