After a weekend (okay, a night to be honest) spent binge-watching new Netflix series Stranger Things, I began reflecting on why this is the best series I have seen in years. Maybe decades.
Okay, maybe the gin and tonic I was drinking while watching fostered this reflective state, but the truth is that this really IS the best TV in years. Here’s why:
- Winona Ryder – For the record, I graduated in the 1980’s. In the 80’s, every North American female wanted to be Winona Ryder. She was living with Johnny Depp, she was starring in movies with Christian Slater, she had this dark mysterious cool girl thing going on and as if that wasn’t enough she got to be LYDIA for god’s sake. She has been absent from the screen for a bit, at least in any meaningful way, but as the slightly haphazard, kinda disconnected, wacky and yet desperately loving Christmas-bulb hanging mom she knocks it out of the damn park. I still want to be Winona Ryder, dammit.
- The Music! – The Clash? Peter Gabriel? Echo and the Bunnymen? New Order? JOY DIVISION!?! Yes please. Man, as a survivor of the real 8o’s I can guarantee only ebony-haired, black-lipped, cleopatra-eyed goth-before-it-was-a-thing freaks like me were listening to JD back then. And now it’s used as music for a television series. It’s about damn time, really.
- Eleven is a girl – Yep, the super-power-wielding and mind-blowing (literally) protagonist is a heroine, not a hero. And she likes pretty dresses and blonde wigs. I shouldn’t find this as satisfying as I do, but I do.
- Pre-adolescent boy friendships – Is there anything really as sweet and touching as the friendships between adolescent boys? None of the cattiness of girls that age (hey, I was one, I know) – just straight up giggles, farts and steady friendship.
- Barb – Holy hell, how did they find one of my best pals from the 80’s? Except my Barb was named Judy. I don’t know how often we told Judy to just go home as we wanted to party on without her watchful and slightly more wise (even though we doubted it at the time) gaze upon us. We loved her but we totally undervalued her, too. I’m genuinely glad my Barb didn’t get eaten, though. The Barbs of the world deserve better.
- Chief Hopper – Okay, so he’s kind of messed up on booze and drugs, and he isn’t exactly dedicated to his job (at least in the beginning). But somehow the person I thought would be a failed hero became an actual hero and redeemed himself. The dead daughter storyline is a bit weak, but hey, that’s part of the beauty of this all and leads to my next point…
- Messy storyline – Huh. This storyline is really a bit of a mess. I mean, there is a lot of shit that doesn’t exactly make sense, and from a writer’s point of view one starts to suspect they might be making a lot of this up as they go along. And then you realize you don’t care, because it’s just too good to care about it being a clean plot. And while every character is pretty much a cliche, they are good solid 80’s cliches. That rocks.
- Unexpected success – Show of hands, who else thinks they had no idea this would be as successful as it has become? It just has that low expectation feel to it, which makes the way it’s soared to success even more delightful.
- That monster – Pretty sure I have seen him in my nightmares. I mean, that is one scary-ass and yet recognizable monster. The gin and tonic didn’t make that creature seem any less menacing, incidentally.
- The return of science fiction – Okay, sci-fi didn’t really “disappear”, but this is like a throwback to the good ol’ days of sci-fi, like John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. Man, we must have watched that every Saturday night while sitting on plaid-covered sofas in my parent’s basement for months. You know, on my dad’s VHS player. Because it was the 8o’s.
Maybe it really is the nostalgia captured by Stranger Things that does it for me. All I know is that when I heard them play Joy Division, I knew I had come home.
There’s only one problem with Stranger Things.
I have to wait for season 2. But S’ok, I’ve got the gin chilling.