I always have to laugh when the news feeds on my social media accounts blow up with topics like ‘OMG. That ending to this week’s Game of Thrones was absolutely mind-blowing!’ to which my reply is ‘Uhmm yeah that’s nice. I didn’t see it.’ My television viewing habits tend to border more on a casual viewer yet like everyone else out there I have my distinctive likes and dislikes. If something blips on my radar I’m right there front and center for the series premiere and won’t let over sensationalized internet hype dictate whether I should like said show because its the in thing to do. And hey I don’t want to seem like this is a knock against Game of Thrones. I’ve heard many great things about it from some of my closest friends to the point where eventually I do want to check it out but I’m going to wait a while after the series wraps before sinking my teeth into it. The roller coaster of emotions tend to stick with you significantly longer when you’re going into a full season completely blind. I did this recently with Breaking Bad and quite honestly I felt it was the better approach rather than having something shocking happen one week and counting the next six days down to see if the creators/writers could deliver something as instantly memorable. If the acting, drama and tension are all masterfully executed you won’t hesitate hitting play on the next episode.
Thus the habit of binge watching has quickly become the new norm and thanks to digital media and the meteoric rise of streaming services the likes of Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix we no longer have to waste time getting up off the couch to go and change out a DVD or Blu-ray. The days of using gigabytes of hard drive space are slowly starting to fade as streaming media on the go via your phone or tablet is challenging the entertainment industry to adapt in order to survive.
While all three of these digital services have branched out by financing completely original content Netflix have truly become the game changers by giving audiences full access to every episode of a brand new series right off the bat. Where else are you going to get the option of deciding to move forward with a show immediately with no weekly cool down period? It’s certainly a high stakes gamble that few would see as taking a bigger risk and generating little of the reward .
This past July Stranger Things took form and as I sit here thinking about it now I’m finding a degree of challenge in expressing my own thoughts and takeaways nearly three months after my initial viewing. To sum it up I’d describe Stranger Things as one of those anomalies you’d encounter when traveling down a rabbit hole where the further you go the greater the unpredictability. In the month after it’s premiere Stranger Things racked in an astonishing 14.7 million viewers so it definitely struck a nerve to the point where the entire world is still buzzing about it. I’d love to sit here and completely gush over it yet I don’t want to risk ruining it for those of you who haven’t had the chance to pencil it in. All I will say is it takes place in the early 1980s in a small rural (fictional) everyday town where nothing ever happens and primarily focuses on a group of pre-teen boys banding together after their friend Will mysteriously disappears after a night of playing Dungeons and Dragons. From here on out we enter the oh so familiar realm that Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, and Stephen King were the masters of in their formative years.
Without question my favorite takeaway from Stranger Things is something as simple as the movie poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing hanging rather prominently in the main character’s basement. It’s a touching tribute to one of several men who helped craft a form of storytelling that has transcended generations and to go and reach that level in eight incredible episodes (each presented as chapters) without the support of a major network is highly unusual however in today’s world I think its safe to say quite literally that Stranger Things happened (and I’m eternally grateful that they did).
Final Grade: A+
Before I focus my attention to the month ahead I just want everyone to know there will come a point where I’ll share my overall impressions on season 1 of Stranger Things at greater lengths. My general writing style tends to encompass a spur of the moment frame of thinking so this is what came out. Rather than pushing this blog post to the brink of 1,000 words where I’d almost certainly begin to nerd out or to quote Led Zeppelin start to Ramble On give me several more months to collect my thoughts and I’ll do my best to remain on point and consistent the next go around. I think it will be beneficial because if there’s any point to sit down and soak in the various motifs of Stranger Things there’s no better time then the Halloween season. I urge everyone to go and do so now! In conclusion enjoy the following video from Reverb.com breaking down the sheer brilliance of the Stranger Things soundtrack.