i just finished watching stranger things and want to praise some things and bitch about some others. so spoiler alert, i’m going to spill the beans on the whole damn thing here.
here’s what i like about it.
- i like the extremely cohesive 80’s aesthetic, from the analog synth soundtrack to the furniture to the tupperware.
- i like the spooky, supernatural thriller/horror vibe, and i like it even more when it’s done well.
- i like the overt homage to the creator’s inspirations, like the movie posters for evil dead, the thing, and jaws.
- i think some of the acting was great, most notably for dustin (the toothless kid), joyce (will’s mom), and sheriff jim hopper.
- i like how quickly it moved, the pace of the story.
- i like the blend of humour with horror, it helped prevent it from taking itself too seriously.
overall, i’d give it 7.5 or 8 out of 10 — a solid B.
however, i don’t think it’s deserving of the over-the-top approval it’s getting from most other people, and here’s why.
- a lot of the acting is weak — eleven, mike (he’s good most of the time but whenever he’s supposed to be serious or angry he is thoroughly unbelievable, stiff and forced), lucas, dr. brenner.
- some characters were disposable and unnecessary to the story (the bully kids, will and jonathan’s estranged father lonnie, nancy’s quasi-boyfriend steve).
- there were a few things that were distinctly out of place in the otherwise cohesive aesthetic, most notably some very modern dialogue — “douchebag” was not a common insult in the 80’s, and absolutely nobody in the 80’s ever said “just sayin.” i think those things were either overlooked when written into the script, or they were consciously done in order to connect with an audience who may not have grown up in the 80’s. either way, they stood out to me and they sucked.
- i really hated the typical story arcs, like when mike is mean to eleven for what he thinks was misleading him, she runs away, he regrets it and racked with guilt until he finds her and apologizes, and then they’re closer than ever. god, that’s so fucking typical. that same arc is used in every fucking romantic comedy ever made. it’s boring, typical, ‘paint by numbers’ horseshit and it’s insulting to every viewers intelligence. it even occurs TWICE in stranger things, the second time being when jonathan and nancy have begun growing close while searching for the monster, but then they both say some stupid, heated, overly mean things to each other, separate angrily, she gets lost in ‘the upside down,’ he rescues her, and guess what! everything is great after that! hooray!! christ, why do writers insist on doing that same old tired shit, time and time again? i’d like to meet the people who put that in this show and ask them wtf they were thinking.
- i don’t even need to mention it because i know everyone on the internet has already pointed it out, but it must be said — what about barb?
i see that they are working on a second season, and i find that concerning. i was hoping this was a standalone, 8-episode miniseries, or that each season would be a different story, unrelated to the other seasons and stories. if they continue on with these same kids getting involved with some other unrelated spooky shit, i have some serious concerns. any time good shows become franchises, i worry that the drive to create more episodes and reap more profits will outweigh the creator’s drive to make something worthwhile. popularity is a curse to good art. but then again, it appears they left the story open to continue on with the same kids fighting the same evil — maybe eleven is still alive in ‘the upside down,’ maybe will gave birth to another monster when he coughed that slug up into the sink…maybe he’s got a few more in him yet. i don’t know but i guess if they go that route, it might be ok.
anyway, that’s where i’m at with stranger things. i liked it. i’ll check out the next season and hope that it hasn’t gone to shit overnight.