Stranger Things Season 1
Is the hype real?
I’m one of those people that tends to be wary of things that are popular or ‘highly rated.’ Things that there is so much hype surrounding it that penetrating the actual essence of the show becomes hard. The noise from the outside world almost taints the product. I have been burned many times by believing in hype and being disappointment. I have been burned by being spoiled by people talking about it, assuming everyone else had seen it. I have been burned by looking for spoilers myself because I couldn’t resist.
This time, this time with Stranger Things, none of those things happened. I watched it clean. I was recommended it many times, but I didn’t believe any hype. I pretended it didn’t exist.
The only thing I was conscious of existing was the 80s nostalgia thing with it. Not that I could really relate, not existing in the 80s or having any emotional attachment to it (I haven’t even seen E.T./don’t want to.) So that effect of Stranger Things is completely lost on me.
What isn’t lost on me is the quality of this TV Show. I’m not going to spoil anything, saying that up-front, being a conscientious citizen and reviewer that I am (some of the time).
All of the characters are well executed and complex. Just when you think they are one-dimensional, cliche, or simple annoying, they do something that changes your opinion. They become a new person in your eyes. I can’t think of a character that by the end of it I felt myself hate. I mean, the villains are detestable, but they are supposed to be. I didn’t dislike someone because of how they were written or because I found them offensive. I disliked them because they ought to be disliked, if that distinction is at all clear.
The reason for that is the script. The script is tight. The dialogue and plot just seem so streamlined. Yes, the season leaves the door open for more, but I can’t say there were things I found to be extraordinarily extraneous in Season 1’s run-time. The events built off of each other correctly and integrated to form a highly effective story-telling mechanism. Flashbacks are used sparingly and woven in with deftness. Switching between the different threads of the single narrative, or to some commentators, ’80s genres’, is effortless. Each of the core stories that unfold in the season is given enough time per episode to be fleshed out while also leaving the viewers wanting more.
The pacing really helps with that. There were times when I was getting extremely frustrated that people either wouldn’t just talk to each other or that a character was considered ‘crazy.’ These times were immediately followed by resolution. It happened right when it needed to happen before I would just get furious with the show for stringing me along for its run-time. It is only 8 episodes, which works extremely well. The fact that Stranger Things has this extremely effective pacing makes it standout in my mind, from a technical perspective.
It is a standout for other reasons, too. The aforementioned characters. The story itself. The world it puts itself in. The music.
It just works.
It can never live up to the hype people ascribe to it, but it can be a high quality show of its own right. Don’t go in expecting anything but a really good time and Stranger Things will deliver every episode. You will be entertained, hopefully, just as I was.
And, like me, be waiting semi-patiently for season 2 to roll along because you want more. That is what Stranger Things does —it satiates you but tempts you enough to want more anyway because it is just that good.