Stranger Things season 2 is out now. I’m not done, still working on it, but I was thinking about why the series works.
A number of people have blamed nostalgia for it, but I think that’s missing the mark. I mean, half the people watching the series weren’t born when the era it mimics happened. They aren’t nostalgic for the eighties, they never saw the eighties.
There are reasons it works better as an eighties story, and that has to do with what changed in the nineties. It’s a standard of modern horror that for some reason the monster isn’t in the million or so selfies each of the characters would have taken. There’s some reason that the characters can’t call each other, despite having a communication device on them at all times. That started to happen in the nineties. Hell, the computer revolution happened in the nineties. In the eighties, most computers weren’t connected to anything else.
The sense of claustrophobia of a small town with monsters doesn’t work when that information would be worldwide in minutes. The idea of this monster escaping the notice of the world at large is ludicrous from our perspective now. In the eighties it made sense though, you could have an isolated small town. However, other than that the tech isn’t that different from our world today, and while the fashions were a bit off, they weren’t so foreign for the average person that they feel strange to us today. Even the seventies seems weirder. Not only that, but many brands from today still exist, so you can do a fair bit of product placement (and they do in Stranger Things, but they do it pretty well).
None of that is the reason Stranger Things is so good though. It’s so good because it’s compelling. You care about the characters. Okay, in Season 1 you don’t care that much about Will himself, but the rest of the characters are incredibly compelling. There is also no stupid. The characters don’t behave like idiots. They don’t have meta-knowledge but they are still smart people working with the best information they have.
The writing is brilliant, the pacing is brilliant, the narrative choices the characters make are incredible.
It’s truly one of the best things on right now. I would say best things on television, but of course, it’s on Netflix, and not on television at all.