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Stranger Fan-Things

 I'm thirty-five years old and I love Stranger Things! Since its first season, I have been on every twist and turn the show has offered me and I've gobbled it up like a rampaging demodog. I've rewatched every season at least twice and recently rewatched it with my BF so he could enjoy in the splendor of what is Stranger Things. Although I know there is just one season to go, I'm not mad about it. the foreshadowing that has haunted Stranger Things needs to come to a close as we can't keep believing the actor's arent aging. 

I was born in the 80's but I grew up in the 90's. However, I love 80's fashion and many of my favorite movies are from the 80's and 90's. In fact I would say most of them. There is something nostalgic and wonderful about movies without people staring at their phones texting their friends to come over and eat pizza or hangout out in their parent's basement to play spin the bottle. Stranger Things captures the 80's so well it's hard to tell if you're there watching it vs in the real world. Each character brings so much to the table in character development, changing from season to season. It's uncanny and sometimes hard to keep up. 

I think the norm of stranger things is its progression. Like many shows with long seasons, the stories never change take for instance CSI(Miami or others). Every episode depicts a crime scene the detectives and forensic scientists must uncover. Every episode is basically the same, except for who killed and who died. There is of course variation, but it is few and far between and is just enough to keep you hooked for the season. In Stranger Things, it is a progression of a story and the story takes place over the course of a week to a few days even. The time line is exasserbated by the sheer will of the characters and their drive to survive. A show that ended early but had a similar premise was the OA also a netflix original which sadly ended abruptly after two seasons. Many shows die early on Netflix, and some unfortunly last way past their prime. 

Stranger Thing is quintessentially a breakfast club-sque show.  As in you have a set number of characters which stand the test of friendship throughout all seasons. You have of course some variations with new characters and some turn-over but the tried and true character groups stay the same. Every part is played beautifully and even if they change a little, overall you remember why they are there in the first place. 

As my BF and I watched all four seasons we were constantly reminded of the many movies with similar themes or characteristics. Other than just nostalgia. Movies like Stand by Me, The Terminator, The Goonies and fantasies like Krull or Willow. I've never played D&D, but now I want to. The fourth season of Stranger things is immersive. You feel for El and her offbeat shyness as she tries to navigate high school and the unsettling tension of just not feeling quite normal. You want Will to open up and tell us how he really feels, but beg that it won't be awkward. You wish Jonathan would just tell Nancy the truth. You wonder what traumas if any lie in store for Dustin after witnessing the unexpected. It was hard, truly hard not to be immersive in this season, but it was so easy to get wrapped up in everything. 

In rewatching the previous seasons I could really delve into each character and feel the growth, while watching the fourth season I reveled in the unexpected. Would El get her powers back, would the jock ruin everything? 

Here is my Breakfast-club-esque breakdown of the characters, what they provide, and how they grow. 

Eleven(El), (The Reluctant Hero): In the beginning, she is shy and not knowing what she can actually provide she does become the reluctant hero after learning the ways of friendship and the family she gets to know. Throughout all the seasons we watch El the way we watch ourselves, in the dire need to belong. El is misplaced. She is similar to Hans Solo (star wars) reluctantly helping the Rebel forces, but often chooses to go his own way till he realizes friends are family. In season 2, El leaves to find her own way, to learn and grow and coming back just when everyone needs her. It's Quintisentially the millennium falcon. The rest of the seasons El has to come to grips with what holds her back, even if they are weaknesses, often she is taught to use her weakness as strength. I don't think she ever wants to be the hero, more so she just wants to fit into the puzzle.

Mike Wheeler (The Glue Stick): As Will puts it aptly, he is the heart. It's truth for the last two seasons. In the beginning, though he reminds me so much of Elliott from ET. Especially the bike scene in season one and the finding of El in the woods much like finding ET. If anything he is only the glue later and in the beginning, he is similar to El. He however bonds more with El while Will is missing, thus creating the heart that holds the younger crowd together after Will is free. 

Nancy Wheeler (Teachers Pet): Bookish and a bit nosy, you are put off by Nancy and her Clair-esque-Breakfast club stance in season one, and only towards the end find out she takes no shit. She is cross between Clair and Ellen Ripley (Aliens). Hard-hitting, she takes charge and basically keeps punching back till the end. She is Clair when she's home with her mother or at school, But Ripley fiercely protecting her family and friends. 

Will Byers (The Tattle-Tale): When Will is lost in the upside down he changes, we actually never get to see him beforehand except for the first five minutes of the show, which in any case isn't the best judge of character. He comes back with a version of PTSD exacerbated by the fact that he is still connected to the demons that plagued him. He yearns for the way things were and ultimately has to accept that not everything stays the same. He reminds his friends of this and continually tries to help them by persuading them it will be alright. It is also strange to see in some ways he takes longer to grow up than the rest much like Peter pan. He is somewhat like Cameron Frye(Ferris Buellers Day off) reluctantly bounced around.

Jonathan Byers (The Lone Wolf) Jonathan is aloof in the first season, even though he searches for his brother, we hardly see him and he goes about his day or days surprisingly out of sight. He almost feels like the creepy guy, especially with his camera. Even when he teams up, he still feels alone, and often in the fourth season, we get these close-ups of him that brings us back to the first season tying his two personas all together.  Russ Thompson(Honey I shrunk the kids) or Stef (The Goonies) he doesn't come off as the big brother so much, he kind of like the friend you look up to and less the role model. Although when he teams up with Nancy in seasons 1-3 he certainly becomes more hero-like at least when she is around. 

Dustin Henderson (The Trouble maker) Dustin has a good heart in all the seasons, but he always undermines himself with silly antics and sometimes surprising and somewhat annoying things. He reminds me of Ray Stantz (Ghostbusters) He is truly his own judge of humour. You wonder where his mind was he was raising Dart, or how he got up the courage to fight the bats. Most of the season he is ready to flee at a moment's notice. He brings the humor albeit random, but often it's the random stuff that saves the day. 

Lucas Sinclair (The Go-getter) In all three seasons Lucas is mildly calm. He goes with the flow and only talks back when he really, I mean really doesn't believe in the cause, which is really only the first season. After El proves her worth, he continues in the flow. Even though he didn't want to be Winston Zeddmore(GhostBusters) he kind of is. He is steadfast, he is mostly loyal, and his loyalty is greatly tested in season 4, where ultimately he changes from Winston to Darry Curtis(The Outsiders). He takes charge in defending Max, in comforting her. At odds with racism and the world of the 80's his strength rivals some of our so-called heros. 

Steve Harrington (Pretty Boy). Even if Steve wasn't there, there would be someone there that was Steve. In the first season, Steve is just a pretty face, like Jake Ryan (Sixteen Candles). As he evolves he becomes the punching bag, the babysitter, the dummy and even though proven because He's pretty he should be the hero he is often more of the glue-like Mike in holding the older teens together. He gets a lot of help from Robin in that area. However, near the end, he morphs into Lane Meyer (Better off dead). It is one of the better switches because the growth in the show is only a year, but a lot can happen in a short time. 

Joyce Byers ( The Worrier) Maybe it's her motherly instinct, maybe it's her years of working a minimum wage job. Joyce embodies the dramatics. Both seasons 1-2 she revels in emotions that have and make even the weakest shed a tear. Yet throughout every season and basically every episode she still has a look of "what the fuck!" written all over her face, even when she seems to win it is there. She is Mikey (The Goonies) and she is Loretta Castorini(Moonstruck) She is feirce, no bullshit, she wants what she wants but there is some hesitation there, the scariness of the unknown and the unreal. 

Hopper( The Guns) If Hopper and John McClane(Die Hard) ever got together it would be all out war. Hopper is seemingly comedic like Dusty in the beginning. An overweight grumpy cop who later shows his vulnerability through the trials he's endured pre-El. His Heroic efforts are not lost even when he is and in the end we are rewarded by his candor as he grows and overcomes great obstacles. His John McClane-esque bruskness mixes well with the cast and overall his changes are actually more calming throughout the season and takes on some characteristics similar to Dean Proffitt(Overboard).  

Murry Bauman (The Narrator) Bauman provides comedic timing like no other. He in short is grown-up sophisticated Dusty. He orchestrates scenes and provides punctuation. I think he is a perfect additive to soup strange or not. The Duffer brothers knew they needed conspiracy theory and Bauman provides just enough. He changes a bit, but only in demeanor and the things he does vs the things he says. He is basically Ray Peterson( The Burbs) and Nick Deezy (Vibes). Both were scared shitless and enthusiastic enough to take on the hard-hitting truth. 

Max Mayfield (The fortune teller) Like many characters Max is primary in helping El, as her first real girlfriend. she takes on a role no one else does. Often we think Mike is El's first best friend, but quickly becomes her boyfriend which is certainly not the same. Core memories are formed with Max that Mike cannot replace. Her gruff demeanor help in situating her away from the rest and alienating her in season 4. She however is more then her emotions and angst that plague many of the characters. She is both John Bender(The Breakfast club) and Veronica Sawyer (Heathers). She is dark, but there's light there, in between the memories and problems many face. Her dark humour creates the maze and we all follow along because it is easy to walk into a maze, but harder than we think to walk out of. 

Erica Sinclair(The Greaser) Sinclair's litter sister takes on more than she bargained for in season 3 and becomes a great additive to this stellar cast by reputation alone. She is similar to Joyce with her no bullshit and sometimes sassy attitude becomes the sarcastic response to things we often think are not as comedic as one might assume. her only change through the season is possibly becoming even more sassy than she started out. She is Alex Foley(Beverly Hills Cop) and obviously Karen Allen (Raiders of the lost ark).

Robin Buckly (The Flag Holder): Its not just her LGBTQ stance that sets her apart from the group and being best friends with Steve obviously creates this great dynamic. It's her clumsy stance in many episodes. Robin although is an add-in like Erica holds her own as often the pursuer of the mundane. She takes the reigns in many situations even when it seemingly isn't her turn. Running ahead bearing the flag of the group like a lone marcher. She often beats her own drum so to speak. She reminds me of Samantha Baker (Sixteen candles) Seemingly shy but still holding it together as well as Doc Brown(Back to the Future).

In truth, everything about Stranger Things is great, from the Stephen King-ish titles to the the use of 80's music and synth for dramatic scenes, all the way down to the teals and purple of tracksuits. It captures sci-fi, drama comedy and horror all in one and you can bypass the bad CGI in the first season because the breakthrough acting and writing steers you clean across the computer threshold. I will be sorry to see it go, but it has been one of the best shows in the last decade I can be happy is out there. And can rewatch whenever I want. 


PS always try before Deny.



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