Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ is mystifying and thrilling

By Kevin Shaw
Staff Writer

Netflix is definitely no stranger to hit original shows. Programs like “Orange is the New Black,” “Daredevil” and “House of Cards” have consumed the lives of online streamers, with some viewers watching entire seasons in single-day binges. Netflix’s newest show, “Stranger Things,” keeps up with the tradition of being “so good I watched the whole thing in a weekend.” After just one short season, it solidified itself as one of my favorite shows.

The show retains the same sense of childhood wonder and the thrill of adventure as “The Goonies.” The kids in “Stranger Things” clearly draw influence from the young characters in the 1985 classic, but the show also has dark and supernatural elements reminiscent of “The Twilight Zone.” It is best described as a sci-fi, action, adventure, psychological thriller. I’ve really never seen anything quite like it.

The child actors on 'Stranger Things' steal the show. (Photo courtesty of Netflix.)
The child actors on ‘Stranger Things’ steal the show. (Photo courtesy of Netflix.)

“Stranger Things” follows the story of a group of 12 year olds from the small town of Hawkins, Ind. The lives of these Dungeons and Dragons-playing social pariahs are turned upside down when their friend Will (played by Noah Schnapp) disappears and they are introduced to a psychokinetic little girl named Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown). There’s a crazy mother, a talking house, corrupt government officials and something called a Demogorgon. Anything else would be too much to say and spoil the show, so you’ll have to check it out for yourself.

The acting in the show is very well done. Winona Ryder is convincing in her role as Will’s distraught mother, Joyce, meanwhile Matthew Modine is terrifying as the imposing government agent. But ultimately, the child actors steal the show.

This was the first major role for the main characters Eleven and Mike (Finn Wolfhard). They both absolutely nailed it. Brown is 12 and Wolfhard is 13, but both portray their respective characters with the grace and passion of much older actors.

“Stranger Things” has done more in eight episodes than most shows can do in 50. It’s funny, intelligent, heartwarming and gut-wrenching. And with season two in the works, there is no better time to start watching. You won’t regret it.