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.)
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.