Watch List: ‘Stranger Things’

Netflix Wins Over Audience with Government Conspiracies, Alternate Dimensions

Stranger Things TV Poster

Stranger Things TV Poster

Nayma Villalpando, reporter

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The way “Stranger Things” mixes and mingles topics such as government conspiracies, alternate dimensions, and otherworldly monsters combined with the complex story lines, character arcs, and retro 80’s nostalgia makes the show an incredible feat, entertaining and captivating for anyone to watch. The music, set, design and aesthetic of the whole show compels curious viewers and draws them into the eerie and “quiet” town of Hawkins, Indiana.

The depth and detail portrayed by the characters gives the viewer the rare ability of relating to them on a personal level. The characters are three dimensional and real, and the emotional performances they give are so beautifully raw that viewers have a hard time believing that Will Byers isn’t actually missing. The visual representation of Joyce Byers’ slow loss of sanity has the viewers rooting for the traumatized mother as the town turns on her, and the whirlwind emotions of four eleven-year-olds dealing with school bullies and finding their way through love and loss is impeccable. The love triangle between Nancy Wheeler, Jonathan Byers and Steve Harrington, although slightly cliché, still gives viewers the feelings of being integrated into the teen pressure associated with relationships. And of course, no one can help but feel sorry for Hopper, the town sheriff trying to deal with the loss of his daughter through alcoholism, while balancing the kidnapping of Will Byers, a rumor of a second missing child, as well as his own investigation of a government lab hiding several dark secrets.

As for music choices, the Duffer Brothers wanted a genuine and accurate sound for the show; one that encompassed all that was the ‘80s. In order to do that, they called up Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, two members of the Austin, Texas instrumental electronic group “Survive.” The duo began on the score a little over a year after they had gone through a tryout period wherein they had to prove themselves over the course of a couple of months, before the casting and scripts had been finished. The Duffer Brothers, along with Dixon and Stein, wanted to avoid 80’s clichés while making sure to stay true to the period, leading Dixon and Stein to compose almost all of the score using vintage Arp synthesizers. Not only did the pair produce the score for the entire show, but they also composed a few character themes and moods that the producers of the show used during auditions. For a main character like Eleven, the producers explained what her character was like and based off of his description, they wrote a theme that the Duffer Brothers loved. The electronic synthesizer sound that was big in the 80’s emphasize the realness of the show and the production.

With all of the different characters involved in the show, it’s definitely no surprise that there are several individual story lines added alongside the main one. The biggest character arc probably relates to Joyce Byers and Hopper, following them on their journey through the loss of a child and their jointed road to recovery. When Will first goes missing, Joyce refuses to believe it and goes to extreme measures to communicate with him while he is trapped in “The Upside Down” such as setting up a ouija-like board on her wall, using Christmas lights in place of the planchette. While the rest of the town begins to think that Joyce is losing her grasp on reality, Hopper realizes that finding Will could be his shot at redemption after losing his daughter to cancer. Both parents travel to the other dimension in search of Will, and happen to direct their own personal journey to mental and emotional stability as well. In addition to that huge character arc, the most noticeable happens to belong to local heartthrob Steve Harrington. During the beginning of the show, Steve is depicted as stuck up, conceited, and overall just not a nice guy. He even goes as far as breaking Jonathan Byers’ camera one day after school. After Nancy drops him though, he realizes that because he loves her, he has to change himself to be a better person. Steve quickly turns his act around and even helps the local movie theater clean off the billboard that had been vandalized before. Not only that, but he assists Nancy and Jonathan during their fight with the Demogorgon (even though he had been injured in a fight with Jonathan) risking his life to prove to Nancy that he’s changed for the better. Despite the fact that there are multiple splendid character arcs and developments in story lines, Joyce, Hopper, and Steve were my favorites.

The last episode of “Stranger Things” included many easter eggs about the next season, leaving viewers to their own devices when it comes to deciphering the clues and creating their own theories. In the episode, a shot of a newspaper article talks about “the boy who came back to life”, and even said that Joyce Byers thinks that Will was abducted and tested on for a secret government agency run by the Hawkins National Laboratories. There has been so much speculation about season 2 of the show ever since the Duffer Brothers confirmed the release date of 2017. Many people are wondering if Eleven will make a return, or if Hopper got tangled up in the wrong web with those government agents as seen in the season finale.

Though most of the viewers of “Stranger Things” agree that the show hits home in almost every aspect, there are still a few people who disagree. With every classic reference the Duffer Brothers included, some viewers found the show a bit too predictable and even a little boring. The paranormal appearances, along with Eleven’s psychic abilities and the suspenseful situations the children get themselves were pretty foreseeable. Nevertheless, the Duffer Brothers will be idolized for creating such an enjoyable show.

If you’ve seen “Twin Peaks”, the crime, mystery and secrets tied up in “Stranger Things” are sure to draw you in. Another similar show is “The X Files”, which makes Scully and Mulder out to be the outcasts, much like Mike and his friends. Lastly, “Freaks & Geeks” gives a tribute to the fantastic ‘80s setting that settles in “Stranger Things”, portraying the lives and actions of the kids perfectly. Although there are many other shows that are comparable to “Stranger Things”, these three are top picks.

“Stranger Things” is a special show that incorporates mystery, paranormal beings, parallel dimensions, government secrets, the struggles of teens facing basic high school pressures, two parents dealing with emotional and mental instability, and four kids in search of their lost friend. The show is captivating and entertaining, perfect to watch for every person on any occasion.

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