Chances are if you have access to modern technology and a Netflix password, you’ve already binge watched the world’s latest cultural phenomenon Stranger Things. The science fiction thriller hit Netflix not even two weeks ago but has held my Twitter feed hostage ever since.
Set in the early 1980’s, Stranger Things follows the residents of Hawkins, a small town that’s torn apart by supernatural forces after a young boy mysteriously vanishes without a trace.
Not one to stay off a bandwagon, I sat down to watch and emerged two days later, without even a shower and sleep deprived, eyes wide with a what-the-hell-did-I-just-watch sort of glaze. Now I’m here, ready to go to the ends of the earth to convince the small minority of you who haven’t watched yet to buckle up and get ready for the ride of your freaking life.
Here are all the reasons I’m obsessed with this show and you should be too:
1. The kids in this show might just be the best actors on the planet.
I am pretty much 100% sure the casting directors found actors with 50+ years of experience and then stuffed them into little kid-sized costumes. Not only are they young, they’re also all essentially unknown or little-known actors about to skyrocket to complete and utter fame. But really, give them ALL the Emmys.
2. You’ll get some serious 80’s nostalgia.
Everything from the show’s marketing materials to their font choice during the opening credits looks straight out of a 1980’s TV drama. From the very first episode, I was having some pretty lucid early-childhood flashbacks.
References are kept intentionally subtle, but the camera work, lighting, and dialogue choices all pay respect to 80’s classics like E.T., The Goonies, Back to the Future, and the Twilight Zone. Their ability to channel that energy into a totally new story makes Stranger Things seem as if it were an actual 80’s cult classic instead of a 2016 Netflix phenomenon.
3. Two words: Winona. Ryder.
Seriously, where has this woman been lately? Her performance in the series was completely and utterly mesmerizing.
4. It’s scary but self-aware.
Make no mistake: Stranger Things is scary as hell. The series expertly blends sci-fi, mystery, and horror in ways that will keep you on the edge of your (literal) seat. It’s not afraid to poke fun at itself, though: In the same episode a character makes a Poltergeist reference, as she gets a creepy static-filled phone call. This self-awareness allows the show to access 80’s nostalgia while still staying smart enough to grip a 21st-century audience.
5. You might question your own sanity.
I’m not saying this show made me crazy, but it did get me to un-ironically shout “ASK THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS A YES OR NO QUESTION DAMNIT” at my television. So there’s that.
Historically, sci-fi and horror have never been mainstream, hyper-popular genres. Stranger Things’ ability to skyrocket to the forefront of today’s cultural zeitgeist speaks volumes about how good it is.
That means you—yeah, you—better start watching.
Already binged on Stranger Things and jonesing for more? Give these shows a try:
1. The Leftovers | HBO
Three years after 2% of the world’s population vanished inexplicably from the earth, those left behind are still struggling to cope—and looking for answers.
2. Twin Peaks | Hulu
Stranger Things draws plenty of inspiration from this 90’s cult-classic: As a detective investigates the murder of a young girl, it becomes clear that supernatural forces are at work in the picturesque town. (Bonus! Twin Peaks will premiere a limited-run third season in 2017).
3. Wayward Pines
After waking up from a car crash, secret service agent Ethan Burke finds himself in Wayward Pines, Idaho, a small town where any attempt to leave town limits is punished by public execution. You might notice a similarity between Stranger Things and Wayward Pines: Matt and Ross Duffer worked on both series.