I am not a big science fiction fan. Although I might try to save face and say I don’t like it because I am too sophisticated to entertain the fantasy nature of the genre, in reality I shy away from it because a lot of the content goes way over my head. Every now and then I will go to the theater to watch a science fiction blockbuster but if you ask me if my idea of a good time is watching a sci-fi television series I would give you a big fat NO.
However, at the urging of others I recently watched a science fiction Netflix series. Last night I finished the final episode of “Stranger Things.”
I briefly wrote about “Stranger Things” in a Thursday Rundown post. At the time, I said it took me to the third episode to finally get into it. However, from that third show on it was must-see TV for me. Why did I enjoy it so much?
If you are thinking I was able to tolerate it because the producers went light on the actual science fiction you are wrong. Make no mistake about it, the genre title of “Stranger Things” isn’t simply to attract a demographic of dudes who watched the Sci-Fi Channel growing up. What you get from the show is a heavy dose of straight up science-fiction. It pretty much has it all: alternate dimensions, a monster, calculations, nerds, telekinesis, a shady government agency, and much more. As per usual, I didn’t always immediately understand everything discussed in the episodes (the group of 12-year-olds in the movie were all much smarter than me).
Yes, despite the strong science fiction elements, I still managed to like “Stranger Things.” But the biggest reason for my fandom wasn’t because of the strong and eccentric characters or the addicting music or the fun references to films of the past. Rather, it was because of the incredible and authentic feel I got from watching each episode.
“Stranger Things” takes place in the 1980s. Guess what? You will never forget it when watching the show. Look, I was born in the latter half of the 1980s but I don’t remember a day living in them. However, I can feel exactly what it was like to live in the decade by watching “Stranger Things.”
The series doesn’t just capture the 1980s. It captures the 1980s in a beautiful way. Even though “Stranger Things” deals with a monster and a dark alternate dimension, the beauty still comes out. Everything from the homes to the school to the landscapes to the streets are vintage 1983. Of course the characters talk and dress just like they were plucked from a time machine but it goes much further than that.
Colors. That is what really sets “Stranger Things” apart. It was as if Crayola made a box of crayons called “The Early 1980s” and the Duffey Brothers used them to color in all the scenes. The shots in the movie aren’t breathtaking or glamorous…they are just real. And, when it comes to a television series, that constitutes beautiful.
It is tough to describe the awesomeness of watching the beauty of “Stranger Things” so let me just give you an example that especially sticks out. Last night Sidney and I were watching the finale. Toward the end of the episode, they cut to a shot of Nancy and Joe. They are sitting on a couch next to a Christmas tree. It was absolutely striking. It was 100% pure 1983. It was like watching an actual home video from that year in crystal clear high definition. The shot only lasted a few seconds but I spoke up and said to Sidney, “Wow, that is why this show is so good.”
So is a five second shot in an eight episode series supposed to convince you to watch “Stranger Things”? Hmmm…I don’t know if that would persuade me. So let me try putting it this way instead: If you don’t like science fiction, don’t let it prevent you from watching “Stranger Things.” Instead, give it a shot just for the artistic and nostalgic gem that the series is. You most likely won’t regret it. Don’t Blink.