Stranger Things is a Netflix original series created by the Duffer brothers that was released in July of 2016. It didn’t take long for this show to gain traction and viewers. As its popularity rose, my Facebook feed became plastered with references I didn’t understand. I decided it was time to end the madness. I had to watch it or become the only outcast not to be familiar with the most popular show among my friends and family. This review contains spoilers.
The show begins with the disappearance of Will Byers. After a day of playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, Will rides his bike home, gets run off the road, and wakes up in a world similar to ours, but different. Once his mom, Joyce Byers, realizes he’s gone missing, she gets the local police involved.
The police’s pathetic effort at finding Will frustrates Joyce, who frantically calls the police with new theories about her son’s disappearance. The police write her off as crazy and don’t take her seriously. The only officer to eventually listen is Jim Hopper, the chief of police. Reluctantly, he starts doing some digging and realizes she may not be as crazy as everyone believes. He begins to think that Will is alive and a shady organization is trying to cover up his disappearance.
Joyce starts receiving phone calls, but she can only hear static and breathing on the other end. She recognizes the breathing and knows Will is calling her. She also thinks Will is communicating with her by using the lights in her house. So, she does what any sane mother with a missing child would do: she creates something akin to a ouija board to communicate with her missing son.
Throughout the series, it becomes apparent that Will is no longer in Hawkins. He seems to have crossed into another dimension where he’s in a place that looks like Hawkins, but there are no people, only monsters and toxic air. Will has to survive in this other dimension while being hunted by the monster his friends have named the Demogorgon. Mike, Dustin, and Lucas frantically search for a way to find him, but they can’t reach Will to ask him where he is or how to get to him. Then they meet Eleven.
Eleven has some connection to the dimension Will has become a prisoner to. She seems to know all about the world Will is in and she even tells his friends that there is a monster in that world. Additionally, Eleven has telekinetic abilities and can communicate with what becomes known as the Upside Down. Because of all this, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas believe Eleven is the key to recovering Will from the Upside Down. Unfortunately, Eleven has to be kept hidden because she is on the run from some shady people who want to keep her locked up and train her to use her abilities to find people (and probably kill them).
Of course, in the midst of all this REAL trouble, there is a love triangle. Nancy, Mike’s older sister, is dating Steve Harrington, while attracting the attention of Will Byers’s older brother, Jonathan. Nancy and Jonathan are connected because their brothers are best friends, so Nancy wants to help find Will. She also believes her best friend Barb’s disappearance may be connected to Will’s. Nancy tries to keep up the appearance of dating Steve while hunting a Demogorgon and trying to find Will and Barb with Jonathan.
In the final episode, Eleven disappears. Where did she go? She can’t be dead! She vanished, leaving Mike sad and alone. We’d better find out what happened to her next season! If she didn’t die, that is.
I was upset that Steve broke Jonathan’s camera, but Jonathan shouldn’t be taking pictures of people without their consent, especially if the photos are sensual. Jonathan was a near perfect character. His only flaws: being a pervert, not quite pulling off the deep, dark, and disturbed trope, and his socially awkward nature.
Let’s talk Nancy. Let’s talk aggravating characters. Let’s talk everything wrong with the world. Does she even like Steve or is she just thrilled that the king of the school has taken an interest in her? Why does Nancy have to lead Jonathan on like this? What do Steve and Jonathan see in her? Sure, she’s book smart and radiates innocence with the possibility of being tough, but other than that, she’s an inconsiderate friend, terrible sister, rebellious daughter, and a player. She abandons her best friend for a party and a boy. She watches as Steve breaks Jonathan’s camera (though he broke it for good reasons. Jonathan is a pervert.) She is so caught up in relationship drama when there are more important things going on in Hawkins. She needs to dump her jerk boyfriend, apologize to Barb’s parents (for making Barb go to a party she didn’t want to attend, for pressuring her into shotgunning a beer, for neglecting her to be with Steve), and try to be less of a pain.
Over all, this was a pretty good show. I wasn’t as into it as much as the rest of my Facebook feed, but it was entertaining enough. The ending set up a second season perfectly. Once Will returns to the normal Hawkins, he is still affected by the events that transpired while he was trapped in the Upside Down. It would be nice if things could go back to normal for the poor kid, but he’s hacking up otherworldly slugs and pretending everything is alright when everything is definitely not alright.