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Stranger Things

Sometimes I watch shows besides Supernatural! *gasp* I know! It's true!

I just finished watching Netflix's original Stranger Thing's - which is an 8 episode mini-series.... which you have probably already heard about and/or watched, because I am always slightly behind the times when it comes to watching TV. (This is by design, I like to have the entire world vet my viewing options before I commit to anything.)

REVIEW TIME

Set in the 1980s... (the fond decade of my early childhood... I think it's set in 1983, so I'd be around the same age as Michael's little sister, which is ironic, given that I have an older brother Michael, so, good naming show)... Stranger Things follows the case of a missing boy in a small town. At the same time as he goes missing, his young friends find a strange girl in the woods... and there's literally a monster from another dimension stalking the town.

I loved it. It's a little horror-series, but it's absolutely brilliantly done, because (and I totally had someone on tumblr point this out to me) - there are 3 different storylines, and they're all a different genre of horror/suspense. The kids are in a coming-of-age goonies/stand-by-me type film. The teenagers are in a teenage-drama monster horror. And the adults are in a govenment conspiracy suspense film. Then, at the end, all three plot-lines converge like puzzle-pieces, so that everyone can figure out what's going on and save the day.

It's really well acted. I've heard some people think that Winona Ryder was overacting, but honestly, I thought her performance was super authentic to how absolutely insane a mother in that scenario would go. Likewise, I liked the Sheriff's understated version of the same thing - he hides it, to keep up appearances - but he becomes just as absolutely single-mindedly obsessed with finding Will as Joyce is.

Joyce and Jonathan both broke my heart whenever they were on screen. And I think it's to do with the main reason that I loved the show, and the reason I think all the characters were super compelling - and that's the fact that they don't hide how much they love Will or how much they love each other. You see a lot of families that have more the Wheeler dynamic, where it appears that the parents don't talk to the kids, nor care to, and vice-versa... but even the Wheelers are only like that on the surface (at least the mom, anyway). It's true, that her kids do shut her out, but you see her become absolutely desperate to reach out to them... not to mention that from the get-go she was trying to create an environment where they felt safe talking to her... she does mess it up from time to time, but it's because she's dealing with very limited information.

But yeah, to me, the show is about love - those who love vs. those who don't. There doesn't appear to be any genuine affection for Eleven on the part of her "papa", and she realizes this at the end (or maybe knew the whole time, and that's why she ran), but she lumps him into the "bad men" and turns towards Mike, who pretty much immediately pronounces her his friend... and we could see this as him trying to get her to cooperate with him... but he never once treats her as anything less than a friend, so I'm prone to take it at face value.

Even the Steve-Nancy-Jonathan triangle is compelling because it's full of actual emotion. I like how we're told that Steve is only interested in Nancy for sex, and she feels like she'll lose him after he gets that - but then he proves us wrong by genuinely wanting to still be with her afterwards... and yeah, he's an idiot who has jealousy and anger issues... but we're never told that he's justified in them, and when he realizes the error of his ways, he commits fully to repairing the damage he's done. And again, we see the love vs. non-love when he comfronts his two friends who encouraged his bad-behaviour in order to feed the pleasure they seemingly get from being cruel... and he rightfully points out that it was never about actually supporting him, but rather about injuring Nancy and Jonathan. (And yes, before you ask, my love of threesomes means that I totally ship the Steve-Nancy-Jonathan OT3)

You also see it in things like Will and Jonathan's absent father coming back - Joyce realizing that he didn't come back out of love, but rather for money, and kicking him to the curb.

And we see it in Eleven's sacrifice at the end, which she also does for love - just as Will does in the D&D campaign at the beginning and end of the series... the characteristic that all his friend's sited as the reason that they must save him.

Also, I kinda want to talk about the fact that there are very heavy-handed hints that WIll is gay - in that he's had a history of being bullied for it, his own father suspects it, and neither Joyce nor Jonathan ever deny it. I like that they never deny it, nor do they for one minute make you think that they love him less - or would love him less. I like the idea that this little gay kid has SO MANY people who love him, mainly because usually stories about little gay kids in the 80s are about the opposite of that.

Not sure how I feel about the set-up to S2, mainly because I like my horror shows with minimum death-count - and this one struck basically the perfect balance between deaths, survivors, and saving people... and I don't want anything to happen to my beloveds.

Anyway, it's a good show.

NON-SPOILERY REVIEW: I liked it! It's a suspense/horror show about how much people love each other and how you shouldn't belittle or abuse that.

I was thinking next I might check out The Get Down, because I hear good things about it too.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
kailita
Sep. 10th, 2016 04:54 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you watched this! I watched it last weekend and haven't been able to stop thinking about it! Dustin, the kid with the lisp, became my favorite by the end. I love when Mike and Eleven are hugging, and he just comes up behind them and lays his head on top of theirs. It's so sweet and childlike, and I love the expanding of those exclusive/romantic bonds into more inclusive/friendship bonds.

That being said, I thought Mike and Eleven were adorable, and I was *very* surprised with the direction that Steve went. The show went out of its way to show him trying to make reparations, to prove that he wasn't really a bad guy. Coming back to the Byers' house after what he saw in there to help Jonathan and Nancy fight off the Creature was incredibly brave.

I loved Jonathan. I have such a soft spot for quiet, loner-outcast, overly-responsible-because-of-necessity big brothers. I think it was in the first episode where we see him making breakfast, or Joyce asks him to make breakfast or something, and I pretty much knew right then that he would be my favorite. (Or one of them. ^.^)

I agree with you about Winona Ryder. She stressed me OUT when she was on screen, but I think that was exactly what she was supposed to do. I did laugh every time she went back to the grocery store to buy more "supplies." And I also loved how her connection with her son became a significant plot point. We make a big deal (at least here in the U.S.) about how much boys need dads, male role models, etc. But I think it's kind of rare that we focus on how important the mother/son bond is as well. The only other example that comes to mind is, of course, Harry Potter and Lily.

I also liked the moments where Joyce got to be a mother-figure to Eleven, however briefly. Even though Joyce has been so frazzled and not exactly what I would call a "calming presence" throughout most of the show, as soon as she meets Eleven, she immediately steps into that motherly role without question, providing a surprising amount of compassion and stability. Those moments felt POWERFUL to me.

BRILLIANT realization about the plot lines! I noticed that, but didn't link them with their different genres. So glad you watched it, so glad you liked it! :)
hells_half_acre
Sep. 10th, 2016 05:26 am (UTC)
Dustin was a sweetheart and that hug is one of my favourites of all time I think - the fact that they just make a little hug pile. Oh my heart.

I really love the direction they went with Steve - how they made him more than just your standard douchebag high school boyfriend type. He makes horrible mistakes, and then realizes they're horrible and tries to make repair the damage he caused and be better... and that's just, such a redeeming character trait.

I've read interviews since I watched it, and apparently when he was originally written, he WAS more of the irredeemable douche, but the actor was so sweet that the Duffer brothers rewrote the character to give him more complexity, compassion, and redemption.

And man, I'm right with you with Jonathan. Breakfast was actually a recurring theme with him - we see him making it, or saying he's going to make it, at least three different times... a lot of the time when his mum is too stressed out to be thinking of food (and also chain-smoking too much to realize she's hungry). I fell in love with him the minute he started blaming himself for not being home for Will... I guess it's not breakfast, but guilt for not meeting some impossible standard of responsibility that gets me... well, no, it's what I mentioned in the post - it's just LOVE. Like, as soon as there was a possibility that Will was missing, you could just see how shattered he was, how much he loves his brother. That's what got me.

And yes, I love how Joyce just stepped into caring for Eleven. She wasn't pushy with her own agenda - yes, she needed Eleven to try to find Will - but she didn't push her to look for Will first. She stood by while Eleven looked for Barb, and when Eleven was upset about Barb being dead and freaking out, she didn't tell her to suck it up and look for Will - she comforted her. And when Eleven lost track of Will, she didn't blame her, or ask her to try again, she just held her... and MAN, she's such a good mother, whether the kid is hers or not.

I agree about the importance of the mother-son relationship too. I think we also saw it in the way that Jonathan hated his father - it was a lot about how his father wronged his mother, and not so much about how his father wronged him. At least, that was the impression I got.

SUCH A GOOD SHOW! But I am worried about all my new loves in S2. I do not want anything bad to happen to them!
metallidean_grl
Nov. 30th, 2016 08:25 pm (UTC)
So, I just finished binge watching Longmire on Netflix. Looking to see what will be my next binge watch. Maybe this one, since I have heard so much about it. I'll be back after I have watched it.
hells_half_acre
Nov. 30th, 2016 08:29 pm (UTC)
Do IT!

Well, I say that, but everyone's tastes are different. I do hope you enjoy it though! I really did. :)
metallidean_grl
Nov. 30th, 2016 08:39 pm (UTC)
I'm looking forward to viewing this. Now I can understand all the stuff I have been hearing about it. I'll probably start this weekend.
metallidean_grl
Dec. 12th, 2016 05:23 am (UTC)
I just finished watching the series. AWESOME!! I loved it. Very well done in all aspects of production.

So much to love about the show. I loved Hopper's quiet evolution from a sheriff who doesn't really care all that much to someone who will do anything to save this childs life. I really liked him.

I also really liked Jonathan. Quiet loner who goes about his business taking care of his family the only way he knows how. He was so cute, actually. I liked the way he was with Nancy. They both understood each other and worked well together. Then adding Steve into the mix, well, I was glad they made him a little more layered and not the douche I was thinking he would be. I liked it at the end when Nancy went to sit on the couch with him at her house and he asks her if she gave the gift to him. He let go of his petty jealousy was willing and accepting of their friendship. I really liked that. BUT, I would like for Jonathan to get a girl, if not Nancy, then someone. He's a cutie and needs to have a girl.

As was mentioned above, I enjoyed the moment where Joyce steps up to be a mother to Eleven. That was a very touching scene with Eleven screaming out scared and Joyce comforting her. Very strong and powerful and although all we have seen Joyce be is an hysterical mother, we really did get a sense of the mother she has been to her sons. Neither of them were ever short on a mother's love and that scene really did show us that is truly capable of that affection.

It will be interesting to see what happens in S2. Hopper leaving food in the woods for whom? And then Will coughing up the worm thing. It brought to mind SPN and Alien. Very intriguing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series and look forward to seeing what comes next.
hells_half_acre
Dec. 12th, 2016 05:59 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad you liked it!!!

I agree with your thoughts as well.

I'm a huge fan of OT3s, so of course, I agree that I want Jonathan to get the girl, I just want him to get the guy too. ;) But I also know that's unlikely to happen on a TV show, no matter what platform its on, so I'd also be continent with him just getting a love, because I think he definitely deserves one, whether it's Nancy or someone else.

It'll be interesting to see what S2 brings for sure... I'm nervous about it, because I don't want anyone that survived to die. But I'm also excited, since we'll get to explore these characters and relationships some more.

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )