The Granite Tower
ARTS & CULTUREFILM REVIEW
Stranger Things for All
Kim Sehee  |  redchocolate@korea.ac.kr
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승인 2018.09.20  13:11:07
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The quiet town of Hawkins, where the TV series Stranger Things (2016) takes place, is turned upside down as something supernatural ascends and terrorizes the neighborhood. The inhabitants are never quite the same again. The same goes for the viewers who come across the series—their lives might have changed after encountering Stranger Things. The mix of the 80s nostalgia and other factors make the show more entertaining than anything else they have seen before.

 

Stranger Things is an original TV series that is available on Netflix, an increasingly popular streaming service. The show itself has become something of a phenomenon, with it becoming the most successful out of all Netflix’s originals. With two seasons released up to this point, it has already received a total of 138 nominations and 48 awards. Although the show is mostly adored in the United States (U.S.) because it well fits to the American viewers’ preferences, it also has fans all over the world.

 

Stranger Things takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, which is located in Indiana, U.S. There, a group of four boys, Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas, gather for a game of Dungeons & Dragons at Mike’s basement. The boys leave after the game, but when Will arrives home, he meets an unknown force and disappears. Meanwhile, a girl with a shaved head arrives in Hawkins, with mysterious people related to the government chasing her. The girl incidentally meets the three boys, and together they join forces to find Will. Surprisingly, they find out that it was not something ordinary that took Will—something supernatural was involved.

 

Nostalgia is one of the main factors that lead to the success of the show. In the setting, there are many references that represent the era, which make its viewers reminisce about t h e past. As the main characters are in their teens, pop culture including comics and books is mentioned often. For example, the comics that are shown are mostly the superhero comics that were popular during those times, such as the X-men or Green Lantern. References to author Stephen King’s novels that were released in the 80s such as Cujo, are sprinkled in the episodes as well. Viewers find these Easter eggs enjoyable, and many claim that they played a big role in enhancing the pleasure of watching the show.

 

Just mentioning certain works is not enough to create a full 80s feeling. The details that fill the characters’ everyday lives make the viewers subconsciously feel the sentiments of those times. The way the characters contact each other is one detail that adds on to such effects. Since phones were not portable in the 80s as they are today, the boys use walkie-talkies to communicate with each other. The styles that the characters sport also take the audience back to the era. For example, the hairstyles, clothes, and the cars that seem so different from the present are indeed accurate depictions of the 80s, as many viewers attest.

 

While the nostalgia may have been successful in attracting the American viewers, it cannot be said that it is an entertaining factor to viewers of other countries. Nostalgia is mostly achievable when it is something they have actually experienced, or at least heard about during their everyday lives. Audiences that do not live in America would not recognize the details that the show placed to evoke the reminiscent sentiments, as they had never known or experienced that setting. However, that does not mean that a non-American audience cannot fully enjoy Stranger Things. In fact, although the show might not have the explosive popularity like it has in the U.S., it does have quite the number of fans around the globe. This is because Stranger Things has plenty of other factors that interest fans.

One of the most attractive features about the show is that it is exemplary as a horror series. Watching Stranger Things gives viewers the thrill they wish for by utilizing high quality Computer Graphics (CG) and effective directing. As the story of Stranger Things deals with the supernatural, CG effects are required to depict certain scenes. Fans of the show claim that the creature brought to life in the show is of astounding quality. The realistic appearance of the CG monster increases the horrific side of the show several fold. Since it is so lifelike, the viewers are able to empathize more with the threat the monsters pose on the main characters.

 

Although the CG creature is the one that is designed to terrify the viewers, its effects are intensified by how the scenes are executed. While the actions of the creatures are depicted from the very first episode, the show does not reveal exactly what it is. The mystery of the creature goes on for quite a time in the story.

 

Even though terrible events keep occurring in Hawkins because of the creature, the viewers are continuously left in the dark. There were even scenes that highlighted the creature’s attacks, but not revealing the monster itself. This uncertainty keeps the audience on edge, waiting desperately while wondering what it is. The heightened level of thrill shows that Stranger Things is excellent as a horror TV series, and anyone who likes the genre would appreciate the experience.

 

   
▲ Stranger Things 2 poster. PROVIDED BY FLICKR

Stranger Things is a much-loved Netflix Original TV series, almost always noted when America discusses its best TV Drama. It provides nostalgia of the 80s for the American viewers and a good horror story for the overseas fans. The show has received great responses from audiences and with that popularity has currently released two seasons, with the third planned to be available by next year. Fans anticipate what will happen in the next season—whether the show will keep to its strong points or whether it will bring something even better.

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