While my wife and I were waiting in the delivery room for our sixth child (yes, sixth) to be born, I was looking for some kind of distraction to pass the time until the little guy arrived. We had brought along our laptops and iPads just for this sort of situation. It seemed like this delivery was taking longer than we thought it would, and I was beginning to get anxious, so I turned to Netflix. I had finished most of the shows I had been watching, so I was looking for something new and good to watch. That’s when I turned to Stranger Things. I had heard people talk about it or read about it online, so I thought I would give it a try. After about five minutes I was hooked.
What makes Stranger Things so good? Mostly, it is an interesting, well written and well-directed story featuring compelling characters. That’s probably the biggest reason why so many people love the series. That and these eleven things that I am about to list. Why eleven? Why not ten? If you’re asking that question, you have obviously not seen the show, so you should be warned right now that this will have spoilers. You owe it to yourself to not read any further until you have seen the show. You have been warned.
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1. Dungeons and Dragons
Do you want to know how you can tell that the group of boys in this show are real geeks? It’s the 80s and they are playing Dungeons and Dragons.From the time the role playing game hit store shelves up through the 90s, just about every parent thought if you played D&D you must be part of some kind of satanic cult. As a result, only the weirdos in school played it. I was one of those weirdos. Of course, now we know that there is nothing evil about the game. For me it was an introduction into the world of fantasy. It led to me picking up the Dragonlance books, which led me into reading Tolkien and Jordan and most of the books I love to read today. I owe a lot to the little bit I played this game. I loved seeing the role it played in this series.
I don’t get everything about why Barb has become such a cult favorite with everyone. She really is in the show for a very short amount of time. I can only tell you why I love Barb. She was the nerdy kid that so many of us were in high school. The one who tried to act like she was above all the immaturity and nonsense of high school, only being there to learn and get good grades. Secretly, though, she wanted to be with the cool kids and go to parties and everything else. Until she was at the party, and then she just wanted to be home studying because it was the right thing to do. How many of us were Barb? Plus, those glasses.
3. The Wall of Lights
This was one of the coolest, yet creepiest things in the show. I loved it. What a creative way for Will to communicate with his mom. Even at the end of the first season, we don’t totally understand all of the significance of light vs. dark, or how the Upside down works, which is one of the things I loved about the series so far. It wrapped up just enough at the end, but left plenty of mystery to leave me waiting (impatiently) for season two.
4. The Upside Down
Speaking of unresolved mysteries and the Upside Down, I loved the Upside Down. What a great way to describe going into another dimension and how this dimension is connected to our own. Visually, the Upside Down was magnificent. It was everything our world was, but with no light. And very creepy. I can’t wait for more of the story and more of an explanation of what the Upside Down is. This was one of my favorite aspects of the show.
There are fewer breakfast foods that remind me of my childhood more than Eggos. Not that we ate Eggos all the time. They were fancy, rich people food. We only got them as a special treat, but when we got them they were glorious. For my brother, who is seven years younger than I am, it would probably be Pop Tarts. We didn’t really have those as much when I was younger. For me, the toasted breakfast of choice was Eggos. Just for fun, I still buy them sometimes, and each time I feel like I am 10 years old again. I loved seeing how much Eleven loved Eggos.
6. Should I Stay or Stay or Should I Go- The Clash
Overall, the music in Stranger Things is phenomenal. The opening credits sequence is really well done and beautiful, and all through out the series, the music is just on point. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” from the Clash becomes the unofficial them of the season though. Seeing the memory of Will and his brother sitting on the bed and listening to it just makes it that much more meaningful as it appears again and again through out the show. It reminded me of bonding over the Clash with one of my younger sisters. Plus, the symbolism of the lyrics when Will sings it. Just awesome.
Will is probably the most important character in the show, and he gets very little screen time. Essentially, the whole plot revolves around him being missing and being trapped in the Upside Down. We get to know him through the other characters. What makes him so interesting to me is that he survives so long in the Upside Down with the demogorgon. Barb gets sucked in and is killed almost instantly. Will doesn’t. Part of it is his resourcefulness and how he somehow hides from the creature. Maybe. I wonder if the creature was keeping him alive for a reason. When we see Will at the very end of the season, and he spits up that weird slug thing, I think it is apparent there is more going on here. I can’t wait to find out what.
8. Will’s Friends
This trio of friends who never give up on finding Will are the magic of the show. One of the problems with stories that feature kids is getting the characters right. Either they are dumbed down because their kids and they are too little kiddish, or they are too adult and it becomes unbelievable. Stranger Things gets it absolutely right. They are genuine, believable kids. They deal with every situation like I think I would have at their age (I wouldn’t have been as successful). They react to what’s happening like boys their age would. It felt real to me. I’d have to say Dustin is my favorite. I think I would probably be the Dustin in the group.
9. Mr. Clarke
Mr. Clarke is the kind of teacher I loved as a kid. He is the kind of teacher i hope my kids will have some day. If I had become a teacher, he is the kind of teacher I would have wanted to hang out with and try to be like. He never turned the boys away when they had questions. He fed their curiosity. He encouraged and welcomed questions. It didn’t matter if he was on a date on the weekend, sitting at home enjoying a movie, he still took their call and answered their questions. He was awesome.
Hopper, in my opinion, is the perfect hero. He is perfect because he is so imperfect. He is trying to do the right thing, but he has weaknesses and imperfections. That makes him more real. He is a good guy in spite of what’s wrong with him. I mean, if you look at his life, since his daughter died, he is kind of a loser. Leaving the big city and coming to some small town, living in a dumpy trailer, basically becoming a slob. I don’t know what would happen to me, what I would do if my daughter died, but I imagine it would be something similar. That’s what drives him, though. It’s what drives him to believe Will’s mom, to keep looking for him, to protect Eleven. He also happened to have the coolest hat ever. If anyone knows where one could purchase such a hat, please let me know.
The breakout star of Stranger Things, in my opinion, without question is Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven. Her performance was incredible. She doesn’t speak a lot, which I think is harder. It is harder to communicate and convey a feeling or emotion without speaking. She does it so well. Her character is incredible and powerful and so cool. To me, she is the highlight of the series, and I’m hoping that the Eggos hopper leaves at the end of the season indicate she’s not really dead, and that we will see more from her. If you are going to be in Salt Lake City next week, you can see more of her at Salt Lake Comic Con, where she will be appearing.
Plus 1: The Demogorgon
The perfect, scary monster for the story. I couldn’t leave it off the list, but I couldn’t leave the other things off either. I loved this monster, and hope it wasn’t the only one, or that the demogorgon still lives.
What about you? What did you think of Stranger Things? What were some of your favorite parts of the show? Let us know in the comments below, or you can send your feedback to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to share this post with someone who might enjoy it. Sharing is caring.
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