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July 15, 2016
Dr. Brenner holds Hopper and Joyce for questioning while the boys wait with Eleven in the gym. Back at Will's, Nancy and Jonathan prepare for battle.
Season Finale
July 15, 2016
Season Finale
Dr. Brenner holds Hopper and Joyce for questioning while the boys wait with Eleven in the gym. Back at Will's, Nancy and Jonathan prepare for battle.
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by Lucy
Dec 6, 2017 1:16PM EST

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Fantastic acting with flawless casting, superb writing and totally on point plot and pacing makes Stranger Things easily in my top three tv shows of the year (if not sneaking into first place). The show is packed with super character development, flashback backstories, genuine friendships being made and tested and so much more, it's a real treat and perfect binge watch size at 8 jam packed episodes.

It’s hard to catergorise Stranger Things, but it’s a sci-fi, supernatural, horror, mystery drama set in the 80′s with enough nostalgia and references to set the scene but not overdoing it too much so that it’s shoved in your face. Benefits of an 80′s setting is that there’s no technology to ‘fill up’ the screen time - there’s phones and radios to communicate and TV to watch but that’s about it. All research has to be done in the library, by asking others or finding it out yourself and this made a refreshing change to all the shows that just have a character google something and then there’s a scene change. The other advantage of the 80′s is a kick ass synth based soundtrack fits right in, listen to it in full here, it’s fantastically immersive and fits the tone of the show perfectly.

The overall plot and tone of the show are so on point - most things are predictable and there are no huge twists and turns but the show keeps you guessing and wondering what is going to be found out next. This continuous adding to the lore of the ‘upside down’ and Eleven’s backstory creates full rounded charaters and makes the sci-fi/supernatural elements of the show plausible. Interestingly, the main mystery of the show is pieced together through three main POVs: Hopper and Joyce, Nancy and Jonathan and our favourite quartet of middle schoolers all approach the mystery of Will’s disapearance from different angles so we get plenty of answers (and cliffhangers) rom theis tri pronged approach as well as learning about all these characters through their experiences. Every character has time to have a small arc in the show and you feel like you know these characters so well by the end of the series. Super writing Duffer Brothers!

The show’s best fature really is its flawless casting. The main cast are all children and teenagers and are phenomenal actors. Lots of emotional range, comedic timing and dramatic (but not overally so) performances which are captivating and genuine. The chemistry between our main quartet is fantastic and all the conscientiousness and introversion being displayed so positively and honestly in a tv show is great. Seeing the children off set as well is hillariously - they all are grounded, witty and just a great bunch of down to Earth kids; watch out for them in the future!

Our main middle school quartet of Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Eleven complimented each other really well and had all the elements of a strong geeky bunch of friends. Their ‘first blood’ rule for appologising, their dungeons and dragons campaigns and frequent radio and AVV club meetings displayed a quirky group of friends who wre not stereotypically ‘nerdy’ but were just passionate about things they liked and trying to survive middle school where conformity is the ‘in thing’. There was a ‘standing up to bullies’ subplot which was weaker but severed its purpose but aside from that, the middleschoolers weren’t pigeon-holed into distinct types, which was refreshing to see.

Jonathan, Nancy and the rest of the high schoolers were a little more stereotyped but even Jonathan himself says it himself pretending to be someone you’re not/someone else is what most teenagers do. I enjoyed how Nancy tried to be a suburban good girl rebelling, but in the end decided that being solving a mystery and being badass shot was more her style. Jonathan is a character that is so rarely seen in tv/film teenagers; he takes on the role of a carer and supporter to his mother, without letting any of this affect his younger brother or what his aspirations are. It’s certainly great to see a positive older brother figure, who is far from perfect and popular, but at the same time good hearted and protective of people he cares about. More Jonathan in season 2 please!

Hopper’s story arc and character development were great. It was rewarding to see him morph from a tired and bored sheriff back to his confident and determinded city cop roots. His police skills and slightly more unorthodox abilities were a great balance for a supernatural mystery. This complimented Joyce’s more frantic and unique ways to solve the mystery well and the way the two of them were linked by the loss of children and their resolution to find Will made for a great platonic partnership.

The supernatural elements to tv shows are often the weakest link but stranger things defys this by approaching their supernatural lore as something very simple: there’s a dark a parallel world to ours with an unknown monster in it. Simple premise, but the intrigue and how it all ties up to Eleven is what fleshes out the concept. I feel there may be some more world building of this ‘upside down’ parallels world in season 2, but for an operning season, there was enough lore to stand up and not get in the way of the story telling (I hope several filmakers are taking note of this...)

I’m really scratching my head to think of any bad points to the show and there are only a few minor niggles I can come up with - the main one being that Wheeler’s never seemed to know where their children were and that there was often 1-2 other children hiding in their house! Surely they must have realised that Eleven/Steve/Jonathan visited all the time, right?!

Gosh I would love to write more and more about this show, but to finish off, here’s what I would like to see in season 2: Eleven to reuturn (obviously), Eleven to reunite with her mother in some way, the boys to find out more about the upside down, for poor Will to get better properly, for Jonathan and Nancy to date (please please), for their to be an entire episode dedicated to the boys + El wining the school science fair and for Mike and Eleven to go to the snow ball :) Basically these precious, amazing children all need happy lives, perhaps with a few mysteries to solve every now and then) and I would watch that show for years!


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