Ok, so you’re reading this, so you clearly don’t live under a rock. And you’re reading this, so you OBVIOUSLY cannot get enough of the Stranger Things series on Netflix! Well, my friend, you’re in good company! Neither could I! Now, if you’re someone who is reading this just to see what the hype is all about; Quit reading right now.
No, seriously. Just… just go. Don’t listen to anything anyone has to say, go watch it, and form your own opinion THEN you can come back and read this. Don’t have Netflix? That’s fine… but I’m sure you know someone who does. Bring them a pack of Tab and (some sort of 80’s candy) and get it watched RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Once you’ve accomplished this binge watch session, return and report.
WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS?!? ……..
If you need just a little more convincing, watch the official trailer for the Stranger Things series below… There’s no way you’ll NOT watch the series after seeing the trailer. Especially if you grew up in the 80’s like I did!
Important Note: The rest of this post is written with the assumption that you’ve already seen the series. Some character references and scene discussions won’t make sense to you if you haven’t seen it yet – and parts of this post might be a spoiler. SO – definitely watch the series first and then come back and read this. Now pardon me… I’m about to ramble on about ‘Stranger Things’!!
OK, they’re finally gone. SHEESH! I was about to ask 11 to throw some crazy brain-force to get rid of them! Just a warning: This post is long… VERY long… I found it impossible to make it shorter than it is because I felt each character, each feeling needed every ounce of time given. So…. you know… if you’re one of those “this is too much reading, no thank you… “ this might just be…. But I usually say the same thing however, even I would read this… because it’s about Stranger Things… and that’s amazing so.. Whatevs. Do you, cause I’m about to do this!
Ok, so those of you still here asking yourselves “Should I stay or should I go”? You know the answer damn well! Now, where shall I begin? The beginning? Yes, that’s good. From the beginning…
You’re browsing Netflix… or you’ve been hearing about it and wondered what all the hype was about. You find it, pull up the preview screen for Stranger Things and see…
Immediately you’re intrigued. Kinda reminds you of Stand By Me. Hmmm… You decide to give it a try.
Now you’re at the beginning. The REAL beginning. You know this beginning. The way the title disappears and the episode title appears and zooms in closer and closer until you pass through the letters – into the show.
And so it begins. You’re in it. You’re part of it.
You’re Will. You’re 11. You’re Barb. You’re Hopper. You’re Joyce, and nobody can figure out if you’ve completely lost your marbles or if you may just have a legit gift for communicating with christmas lights controlled by your missing son.
If you’re like me, you saw a little bit of yourself in every character.
You FEEL a little bit of yourself in every character.
You either REMEMBER some of the things these characters experience
or you feel the emotions you see them feeling.
The way it was written and the way the actors portrayed the characters in a way that made you relate to almost all of them in one way shape or form was just incredible. The likes of which I hadn’t felt from a show in a long time.
The boys connecting the Demogorgon from their game to the “monster” in 11’s reality. I’m not even remotely a D&D expert by any means. I’m not even a “Newbie” for that matter. I really only just know people who play it call it D&D. That’s about the extent of my expertise and knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons. But what kid didn’t pretend stuff in the games you played were sometimes real? Just the THOUGHT of WHAT IF the fact that Will didn’t cast the protection spell is the reason he went missing???
The fun of being a kid is letting your overactive imagination take you away. I know I did that. I did it all the time. You get lost in your own world of imagination. Maybe a little too carried away… Maybe my monsters were so scary that I would end up scaring myself?
Who hasn’t been alone and scared of ghosts or monsters in their house? (Maybe that’s just me and my brothers). We grew up in what we call “The Scary House”. You can bet your last penny we ran like the devil was behind us when we had to turn a light off! By the way, it’s impossible to get to your bed before the lights shut off when YOU’RE the one turning off the light. Now try getting to the top of the stairs before the light shuts off when the switch is downstairs. Yeah… When Will was running from the Monster I KNEW that fear. I remembered it, and I remembered it well. That monster was everything I felt was lurking in shadows in my Scary House waiting to eat me alive.
As parents somehow finding the time to watch this show while being caught up in the hurried life of work-school-kids-repeat day in and day out… who of us wouldn’t completely lose their shit when you realize somewhere in the go-go-go of you trying to be a good parent and make ends meet, you’ve managed to go who knows how long without realizing one of your kids is missing. In that moment, nothing and nobody would matter but finding your kid. You wouldn’t care how crazy anything makes you look, you wouldn’t even think about it. Me and my husband know this all too well ourselves.
When our daughter was really little she once found one hell of a hiding spot in our very small condo. The front door was locked, and at the time, she didn’t even know how to open it. We called her name really sweet and calm, we called her name worried, we called her for a good 10 minutes before we finally called the Police! All of a sudden, Husband hears a faint whimper from our closet about 2 minutes after we called the Police and were in the midst of giving any and all information we had, and there she was! She had found the smallest little spot to hide. So small we didn’t even think she could fit there.
If you’ve never had this happen to you, let me tell you… the hundreds of thousands of things that go through your head all at the same time. It’s like a flash flood. And all of those emotions were immediately followed by a flash flood of relief and gratitude as soon as you realize she’s safe and sound. You go from crazy to crying tears of joy in a split second. So even though Joyce seemed to have completely lost it, talking to lights because she believes it’s Will communicating? I get that. What parents WOULDN’T want to hope for something like that?
But when Hopper is trying to console Joyce explaining that it’s a coping mechanism and Joyce, clearly upset, yells at him “You would know if it was your kid!” – I don’t believe at this point we knew exactly what had happened to his daughter.- The effect was instant. You KNEW she hit him hard. It was almost as if you saw his heart break again. It looked like Joyce knew that instant that she had made a low blow, but she didn’t back down because she needed him to believe her. And you understood it. You felt every ounce of that scene, and it was every bit as intense as it sounds.
And even though we all thought she was a teeeeeeensy bit crazy, we also knew she’s just doing the best she can to raise good boys on her own. We come to appreciate her more when she comforts 11, who is about to go into a sensory deprivation tank to help find Will, and she reassures 11. She clearly cared for 11’s well-being. She was kind to her. She thanked her, before 11 had even done anything to “earn” it. She told her how brave she was. She reassured her that she would be there for her, and she followed through when she could tell 11 was in distress. She held her hand and told her she was there, she wasn’t alone, and to be brave. 11 heard her voice and felt the comfort of a mother’s touch in the black space when she was alone. The sound of her voice clearly gave her a bravery she needed to get the information she needed. The way a mother would. A very different feel completely if we compare it to the interaction between “Papa” and 11 before she goes into the deprivation tank at the facility.
When we first meet Hopper we’re not sure what to think. He gives off the whole asshole-vibe, but there’s something else there… It’s almost like you can tell that’s his coping mechanism. Maybe it’s the way the secretary speaks to him and the way he interacts. You can tell these people care about him. And you have to believe there is a reason they do, and it’s probably not because he’s an asshole.
But there’s just something about him. Maybe it’s the mystery of his daughter. You’re not sure what it is, but you “get” him. He picks up on something about this Will disappearance, just like you picked up on something about him. You both aren’t even really sure what it is, but something is “off”. And as he digs deeper into the disappearance, you see deeper into him. Not necessarily because you get to know anything more about him, but you see his character.
Little by little we get sneaks peeks into Hopper. I can’t even say it’s like peeling back the layers of an onion… if an onion was an onion was an onion… that’s how many layers I think this man has. So what few layers we may have peeled… it’s barely just scraped the surface. And with each of these insanely thin layers peeled, more and more you decide you really like Hopper.
Seeing him with his daughter, what a fantastic dad he was, how much he clearly LOVED being a father and adored his little girl. I died a little inside when his memories of the attempts to revive his daughter flashed when he was trying to revive Will. Ugh.. Tell me you didn’t cry… even a little? Yeah, you had a tear. Don’t lie.
Hopper isn’t just a good guy. He’s a badass good guy. He really means well and wants the best for everyone. He just has his demons, don’t we all? He wants to save the day and make his town a better place, and you know he doesn’t want it because he wants to be a hero. It’s just because that’s what he wants. It makes him feel good. I personally believe he does it for his daughter. Because he would do it for her, if she were with him still.
So let’s talk about Dustin. With his little scrunchy face, toothless grin and perfectly sarcastic personality. It’s hard not to love that kid. When he’s trying to explain to Mike how dense he is for not understanding why his best friend Lucas is so upset and Mike does his best to claim Dustin is his best friend too, and Dustin responds “Ok”. There’s a shrug in that “OK” with a hint of wishing it were true. He’s a tough kid. Down to earth, calls it like it is. But there’s that underlying “new kid” vibe. He’s being himself. Exactly as it should be! But haven’t we all had those “just wanna fit in” feelings at some point or another. When you don’t care whether they like you or not…. But also kinda do? The funny thing is, to me, that group of kids probably wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting or entertaining were it not for Dustin. I mean come on… Look at that face!
Has anyone ever had a friend tell them “No matter what I say, don’t let me… fill-in-the-blank.” And you know damn well they’re going to do exactly what they’re asking you to not let them do. But you agree anyway, and you do your best to beg them not to, just like you promised but there’s no hope. They fight you about it and all you can do is shrug it off and make sure they get home safely. Right? Poor Barb. They just plucked her straight out of your High School History class and dropped her right into the show, didn’t they? She was a good friend. She was a good kid. I really hoped she was going to have more fight in her.
I don’t have much to say about Nancy though… I mean, aside from her obviously needing to eat a calorie or 2,000. Something about her… I had a hard time connecting with. All the teenagers for that matter, except maybe Jonathan. He didn’t resonate with me, but I did feel for him. Clearly forced to grow up sooner than his mom had hoped, but being such a great big brother and taking so much on his shoulders with Will. That part I did understand. But he seems lost still, a lonely guy with nobody who seems to love and appreciate him as much as he would want. I’m hoping things look up for him in the next season… based on the closing scene of him joking with the boys as he picked up Will and their family Christmas dinner – he definitely seemed more upbeat and happy. Actually, I had kind of hoped Barb and him would somehow fall in puppy love… but then… you know… the demogorgon was hungry and all…
And Nancy’s jerky gross boyfriend… Yes, he redeemed himself in the end there. And I’m SO glad he did. But something about that couple… maybe it’s that it reminded me of all the kids I saw in middle school. Jumping in to physical relationships before they even understand what a relationship is, and in the end seeming to have this “high school sweetheart” thing going on… eh…. I dunno… Didn’t love it, but that’s me. Having said that, again; when they gifted Jonathan a new camera I did feel they grew on me a bit more… I hope in the next season they mature just a smidge more.
The teens in general though, and maybe more specifically the little shithead friend and his gross slutty girlfriend. PUKE! Maybe it’s because I have a pre-teen at home so just a quick scan of the left side of the photo makes me want to line them up for a face-slap-line. Alright… moving on before someone gets offended. Not going to spend any more time on this one.
Mike’s mom Karen. Wow, that woman. The epitome of the “string that keeps the family together”. A father completely out of touch and she just sprays that hair, puts on her makeup and puts them big girl panties on day in and day out and mans that ship like she were Captain Blackbeard himself – with a wink and a smile no matter how miserable she may be. And she does it for her children who have zero idea how cool and in-touch and amazing she really is. She just wants the best for them. Plus, picking the lock with her hair pin? Badass.
The nostalgia of The Stranger Things is what a lot of people, I asked, connected with. From the Soundtrack (yes, just the soundtrack… I don’t get it personally considering how incredible every aspect of the show was, but that is what my dear brother Matt says – so… there ya go! NAME DROP!) Using walkie-talkies (why don’t kids these days think those are as fun as we did? Our kids only like to put them close to each other so it makes that awful feedback noise…) The banana seat bikes, the horrible haircuts… and yes, actually, the soundtrack too. I distinctly recall watching the episode where Hopper breaks into the facility and the classic “on an important mission” type music starts. Me and Nate just look at each other wide eyed and smile like we knew the song or something (obviously we didn’t) but it was just that 80’s movie sound! Like in Labyrinth when Sarah felt so accomplished and determined to find her way through the Labyrinth using lipstick as breadcrumbs.
Will. He’s another one I couldn’t quite connect with, other than his running from the monster. I mean, granted, 90% of the show he wasn’t there. But even after… it was almost like he was a pod person? I mean, he calmly goes into the bathroom to vomit a giant slug, has an acid-trip flashback of the Upside Down and calmly sits back down to a nice Christmas dinner and continues on as if nothing ever happened?? Hmm…. I dunno…. Are my kids the only ones who have a panic attack the second they THINK they’re going to throw up? Let alone have a giant slimy green slug come hopping out and slither down the sink!
Speaking of the monster… what was the feeding tube thing he put into Will? Is that how the Monster eats people? Or does he chew them up like how it looked like he was doing in the darkness with 11, or in the forest. Is he spawning new monsters inside of people? Is he really just a minion for a bigger Queen/King monster? Maybe that’s why he hooked Will up to the feeding tube? So the Queen or whatever bigger monster thing could drain the life from him and feed. Maybe that’s what those egg-looking pods were in the Upside Down? The queens eggs. She’s hooked up to this human food machine which helps her have enough energy to lay all of these weird monster face looking eggs… and speaking of those eggs… were some of them already hatched? Was there only one Monster running around? I felt like maybe there were multiple… otherwise why did the monster that 11 destroyed not look burnt? Was I the only one wondering that?
The best analogy I’ve heard thus far comes from one of my coworkers, and I can’t remember exactly how it went now, but here’s my best shot: “The Monster is a pet to some unseen owner. 11’s Black Space tore a hole in the fence between our dimensions. The monster uses this hole to escape his “yard”, and his owner is probably none-the-wiser.
What happens to the psyche of a child when the only way they receive “acceptance” is by first doing something to earn it? You see the hopelessness in her face when she’s at the facility, but at the same time you see that little tiny fire of fight behind her eyes. The true 11 that has been locked away by “Papa” and the “bad men”.
Her inner battle to make her Papa proud or happy, but not wanting to have to do the things she’s made to do to receive it. Ugh. It just killed me. Granted, Papa never seems to be stern to her in any way, but it’s quite obvious he loves her not because he is her “Papa”, but because she represents his work, his assets, his scientific accomplishments. She is his pride and joy in the way I would assume the naming of a star they discovered would be to an astronomer. Not in the sense of how a parent would feel watching their child walk on their graduation day.
I loved the clear determination in her bare feet as she made her way through the forest after she finally broke out of the facility. Knowing she finally used her strength to fight for that “little 11” inside her. It’s interesting the way they had us see the little diner from her perspective… it didn’t feel human almost… like the view of a predator… or wild instinct in predator mode? All I know is I LOVE the face she makes when shits about to go down. She puts her chin down and stares you down right into your soul. It’s that “Oh you messed with the WROOOOOOOOOOOOONG GIRL TODAY!” look.
How did that man in the beginning catch her without her breaking his neck with her mind? Could she read his heart and know his intentions were kind? The things running through her head when he was asking her questions trying to help her were palpable. You knew she was trying to figure out whether she could trust him. Whether she should kill him now or let him continue asking questions until she was finished eating. I think the second he was shot she realized he was a good man and felt guilty for getting him involved.
You feel for her every time Mike yells at her “What’s wrong with you?!” You see her confusion, her alienation, her heart being crushed. It breaks your heart. She just wants to fit in. She just wants to be a part of something. But she just can’t. She’s not like them. They’ll never understand her. They don’t even know there’s anything else to understand. I think in the end she realizes that. And she accepts their simplicity. Their innocence. It’s almost as if for as primal as she probably is due to her lack of affection and warmth, her understanding of their humanity is beyond her years. Like a “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” type of thing.
So 11 did what I had a feeling she would do. I had hoped I was wrong, but as soon as Mike planted a big ole smackaroo on 11’s lips I knew. Tragedy was coming… When 11 pushes through the boys and throws Mike back with her mind I knew it was happening. But to watch it. To see it… To see the boy’s emotions, to see Mike’s. To see hers as she turns around and says goodbye to Mike. He knows. She knows…. And then it happens. And as she screams giving every last ounce of her energy to destroying the monster to save them you can’t help but die a little inside. You KNEW it was going to happen.
But then you see the boys frantically calling for her, screaming for her looking for her, KNOWING she wasn’t there. You knew they knew she was gone, and you could FEEL that they couldn’t accept it. You felt the weight.
So we are left with some of these questions… Is 11 REALLY the monster? Don’t you think it was a little too obvious they WANT us to believe she is the monster by having her believe she is the monster and telling Will that? Is the monster just a manifestation of her fear, since she met the thing in the “black space”? If it is, how did it come to fruition? Maybe she just THINKS she’s the monster because she found it in the black space?
If she is the monster, what was the purpose of taking people and killing/eating them? Why did she have to “connect” to the Upside Down to see where Will and Barb were? Did Barb’s death have any significance if 11 were the monster? Why did the monster put the feeding tube in Will?
Why was she always so hungry?
Were there 10 other babies taken and experimented upon? What happened to them? Are they still there? Did they die? Did they become the monsters in the Upside Down?
Was she just the 11th subject of the experiment? Did her mother have a number?
Waffles in the bin? Is 11 alive?!
What do you think is coming next season? Is 11 really alive? Or is Hopper in a state of his own denial and that’s why he’s putting waffles in a bin outside? Are Hopper and the Upside Down connected somehow? If 11 is alive does that mean the monster is still alive? Are there MORE monsters? What is Will now that’s he puking up monster babies and sending them off to the wild green yonder?
Sooooo many questions….. You’ll have even more questions the more you re-watch season 1!
Couldn’t get enough of season 1? Go to YouTube and search for ‘Stranger Things’ – so many great reviews, discussions and explanations of the series. You could easily spend hours just watching YouTube videos about the series. It was THAT good!
Oh – and if season 1 and all of the discussion about it wasn’t enough? Don’t worry – it has been recently confirmed that season 2 will be out in 2017! Here’s the official trailer for that…
Would love to hear your thoughts about ‘Stranger Things’ in the comments sections below!