“Stranger Things” Has Turned Pop Culture Upside Down!

The+cast+of+Stranger+Things+returns+for+a+second+trip+to+the+Upside+Down.
The cast of Stranger Things returns for a second trip to the Upside Down.

The cast of Stranger Things returns for a second trip to the Upside Down.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

The cast of Stranger Things returns for a second trip to the Upside Down.

Aarushi Bhaskaran, Staff Writer

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Combining science fiction, ‘80s synth pop, “Dungeons and Dragons” and Eggo waffles, “Stranger Things” took the world by storm when it was released two years ago. The Netflix original series, created, written and directed by Matt and Ross Duffer, explores the supernatural in the town of Hawkins, Indiana. Taking on the archetypical setting of a “small town where nothing ever happens,” the series takes a very Spielberg-esque style to evoke a sense of ‘80s nostalgia. As a boy goes missing, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is afoot, transforming this sleepy town into a highly dangerous place. Season two was released on Friday, Oct. 27, satisfying eagerly waiting fans of the show.

 

The interpersonal dynamics between the characters are done excellently. Winona Ryder’s performance as Joyce Byers, a desperate, grieving mother perfectly captures the character. Her relationship with the broken Chief Hopper (David Harbour), is highly compelling. The friendship and loyalty within the younger group, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gates Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will (Noah Schnapps) is heartwarming and recalls children from other science fiction movies from the ‘80s. However, the stunning performance of Millie Bobby Brown, who plays the mysterious Eleven steals the show. Mike’s sister, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) is soon involved in the strange events that go on in the town, as well as a love-triangle that is entertaining for the audience. While it is clear that Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), Will’s older brother, is the intended love interest for Nancy, the audience finds itself torn as it falls for the unconcerned charm of Steve (Joe Keery), her other love interest.

 

The series was not expected to become such a global phenomenon, adding great pressure for season two to deliver. The new season ties up the loose ends and addresses the cliffhanger in the season one finale. The first season ends with Will having been rescued. However, it hints at further problems for him in the following season. Season two confirms this; Will’s woes are far from over and the residents of Hawkins continue to face the looming threat of the Upside Down. The characters are not allowed to speak of the events that transpired in the previous season and are under constant supervision. The new season also has changing relationship dynamics, exploring new partnerships, groups, and also bringing in new characters. Among the new characters are Maxine “Max” (Sadie Sink), a possible new addition to the younger group, and her bad-tempered, abusive and racist step-brother, Billy (Dacre Montgomery). Meanwhile, there is romantic friction between Nancy and Jonathan as they deal with their shared trauma; Nancy’s being Barb’s death and Jonathon’s being the problems with Will since his return. Joyce, too, has romantic entanglements this season, with a new boyfriend, Bob (Sean Astin). At this time, Mike continues his attempts to contact Eleven. Her whereabouts remain concealed from the rest of the characters for most of the season, providing her with a separate, independent plot-line.

 

Season two of “Stranger Things” mostly holds up the standards set by its predecessor. The new season takes the concepts introduced in the first season further and expands the series’ premise: a decision that proves to be successful. The new characters are engaging, while the season also expounds upon the relationships between the new ones. The plot, pacing, atmosphere and characterization are all done excellently. There is little to criticize; however, there are some weaker moments in the season, most notably parts of Eleven’s separate plot-line. The rest of the season is excellent and contains all of the elements that made the series so popular in the first place. Overall, “Stranger Things” has redefined the genre and has carved a place for itself in pop culture.

 

The show is tightly paced, telling a highly compelling story. There is mystery, intrigue, and supernatural powers that draw the audience in. Three groups of characters all search for a missing boy whose disappearance to a mysterious realm puts him just out of their reach. The arrival of another mysterious child who has escaped from an evil experimental facility joins the boy’s friends in the search. Plot elements such as another dimension, a grieving mother and brother, a loyal group of friends, a love-triangle, a tough, broken cop and a sinister science facility all play a key role in the series’ success. The pacing is very well done, owing greatly to the fact that each season only contains eight episodes but has the length of a full-feature movie.

 

The show truly captures the era it emulates, allowing the audience to relive it. Even audience-members who are too young to have actually been alive during the ‘80s are captivated by the show. The cinematography contributes greatly to the mounting sense of suspense that escalates with each episode, creating an atmosphere of increasing darkness and bearing great semblance to feel of old science fiction movies. The nostalgia is palpable in every episode. This is largely due to the painstaking attention to detail from the clothes and makeup to the music and the arcade machines, everything looks believable as if it is truly from the ‘80s.

 

(4 out of 5 stars)

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“Stranger Things” Has Turned Pop Culture Upside Down!