A monster is on the loose, your friend is missing, and government agents are crawling all over town. It’s just another day in Hawkins, Indiana. While Stranger Things might be filled with ’80s pop-culture references, the story and cast transcend decades. This is the best original series on Netflix.
It’s the year 1983 and nightly games of Dungeons & Dragons reign supreme at Mike Wheeler’s (Finn Wolfhard) house. After an exhaustive campaign, his trio of friends, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will (Noah Schnapp) set out for home on their bikes. One of the boys, Will Byers, vanishes without a trace into the night.
The next morning, Will’s panicked mother, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) hunts down Hawkins Police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and pleads with him to do something. The chain-smoking chief believes Joyce is overacting and reluctantly opens an investigation.
Refusing to do nothing, Mike’s group searches the nearby woods and finds a strange girl (Millie Bobby Brown), dressed only in a hospital gown. Hiding her in Mike’s basement, the boys must figure out what to do with their new friend before his parents find her.
The girl is not the only thing to walk out of the woods. Unbeknownst to the locals, something more sinister is on the prowl. Could it have something to do with the top-secret government facility just outside Hawkins? Deadly agents, under the command of MKUltra Alumni, Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), are secretly dispatched into town with orders to find the strange girl.
The story and characters are the best things about this series. The main plot is good, but the side-plots are very well put together. It’s not even fair to call them side-plots. They are more like strands of the main plot that all get pulled together at the ending. Every character is important and has their own part to play.
The Hawkins mysteries are affecting everyone, whether it’s the teenage girl who teams up with the school creep to hunt the monster or Dr. Brenner’s illegal surveillance being carried out on the town. By the end of the series, all these little stories merge together naturally to form the grand finale.
In the middle of all this, one character stands above them all and that’s Joyce Byers. Winona Ryder plays the part perfectly of a distraught mother who must weather paranormal activity and a dismissive townfolk to find her son. Her tears are real as she carries you through the hardships of her journey.
Hawkins has been creatively fashioned into a town of the 1980s. The houses, clothes, cars, household appliances, even Coke cans are of the right design. Just a few minutes into the first episode and the feeling of nostalgia will overcome anyone who grew up in this time period.
There is a downside to all this, and it comes in the form of the monster. While it’s not a super bad rushed CGI job, the thing could have used a little more detail. It is ugly and not in a good way. Luckily, it doesn’t get much time on-screen so it’s only a minor annoyance.
Stranger Things is an excellent addition to Netflix’s library. The story is extremely well written, and the characters are woven into it seamlessly. The town monster might not be the best looking, but it’s a minor complaint that won’t hinder the experience. A must watch for everyone.