The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

Netflix's Stranger Things

Netflix's Stranger Things

In a day and age where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to go into a film or tv show without having things spoiled by the overabundance and accessibility of teaser and full-length trailers tv spots, it’s rare where you get to watch something that’s immensely popular with little to no prior knowledge. I was in that boat when it came to a little gem (basically already a modern day classic) called Stranger Things over on Netflix. The only things that I knew about it was supposed to be a weird show released by Netflix and that it starred Winona Ryder. I didn’t read any reviews on the show and I didn’t read any of the episode synopses; heck, I didn’t even see the trailer!

For those in the minority like I was, Stranger Things is a series about a young boy who disappears and the journey the mother and friends of said boy undertakes to find him. This journey is ripe with bullying, Dungeons & Dragons, and of course we have to throw a bit of supernatural occurrences in the mix. Okay, more than a bit.

From the get-go, we realize that there something...unnatural going on in a small town in Indiana. We have our little dungeon master, Will, who (SPOILERS?) is the one who is attacked and ends up going missing at the beginning of the series. This along with the appearance of a shady government organization and a mysterious (and ravenous) young girl with a shaved head clad in nothing but a hospital gown, kick-starts the plot.

And on that note, I’d like to talk about the cast for a minute, because it’s a great one. Now, we all know that Ms. Ryder received top billing for the show. I mean, she’s Winona Ryder and she nail the part of a mother who’s desperately searching for her missing—possibly dead—child, but I’ve got to say, the kids are the ones who made this show for me. I’m usually wary of shows or films that rely on kid actors/actresses for major roles, but that caution was undeserved when it came to Stranger Things. The kids in this show knocked it out of the park. They (Millie Bobby Brown especially) brought intensity, sincerity, depth, emotion, and skill I haven’t seen from child actors in a while, if ever if I’m being completely honest. Sure, there were times where they stumbled a bit, but that’s to be expected; but those instances were few and far between.

Stranger Things is a show that is an unashamed ballad to the 80s, with references to films such as the Goonies, ET, Stand By Me, Poltergeist, The Thing, Gremlins, The Outsiders and Twilight Zone. Some of the throwbacks are more obvious than others (looking at you Poltergeist, Twilight Zone and ET). I’ve seen some of those films, so I was able to pick up on a few things, but the internet being the internet, memes of all kinds have popped up and you can find all sorts of goodies showing just how much Stranger Things was influenced by the 80s. I might have to check out some of those movies!

All in all, Stranger things is a creepy, sci-fi show revolving around a supernatural mystery you can’t help but try to wrap your head around. I had a blast trying to figure out the answers to the questions showrunners posed with the show. I don’t want to say too much lest I spoil anything, but I do recommend the show. The performances are top notch, the music exquisite, the cinematography stunning, and the monster goosebumps-inducing.

And those kids sure do clean up nice don’t they?

Neal Shusterman's "Star Shard Chronicles"

Neal Shusterman's "Star Shard Chronicles"

I Am Now A Published Author

I Am Now A Published Author