Has the supernatural ever felt so real to you that you believe it might be real? The hit television show “Stranger Things” will give you that perspective. The characters and cinematic qualities of “Stranger Things” enhance the feeling of realism, causing viewers to become sucked into the series almost immediately.
The second season of “Stranger Things” premieres on Netflix Oct. 27. In addition to a season 2 trailer that dropped at Comic Con in July, the Stranger Things official Twitter released a 36-second teaser just this week:
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) October 9, 2017
For anyone who doesn’t know about the 2016 Netflix hit, “Stranger Things” is a television show that takes place in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana during the 1980s. Its focus is on a boy, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), who goes missing one night on his way home from a friend’s house. The Demogorgon, a fictional monster from Dungeons and Dragons, comes to life and abducts Will and takes him to another dimension. The Demogorgon, Will’s family and friends, a mysterious girl with telepathic powers, and all of the townspeople are on the hunt to find Will throughout the season.
Will Byers and his three friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), are middle school boys who enjoy spending their time playing hours upon hours of Dungeons and Dragons or participating in the A.V. Club. Unfortunately, most of the other boys their age enjoy playing sports and going outside. So Will and his friends are bullied, not only for what they love doing, but also for their appearance.
Mike and Dustin are both bullied for “looking funny”; Dustin or “Toothless” doesn’t have all of his teeth in yet due to a genetic disorder and Mike is repeatedly called “Frog Face.” Anyone who has ever been bullied themselves will feel a connection to these boys.
Lucas is bullied based on his race (Lucas is African American) and Will is bullied because he may be gay. Homophobia was much more prevalent and overt in the 1980s than it is nowadays. Lucas’s nickname is “Midnight” for the color of his skin and the young bullies label Will a “fag” based on the way he dresses.
The language used in the show is based on 80s talk and represents what was socially acceptable to say at the time. For example, while labeling someone a “fag” or judging someone by race would strike today’s viewers as offensive, the world of the 1980s tolerated such talk. The racism shown to Lucas and homophobia shown to Will were also more socially acceptable and prevalent.
The boys’ female cohort (Millie Bobby Brown) is a girl with mysterious powers who goes by the name Eleven. She is also deemed an outcast from society since we learn she spent all of her life trapped inside a government facility to increase her “telepathic” powers. As a result of her isolation, she finds it difficult to fit in anywhere in society. Even the boys find her presence unsettling because they think her unknown powers are scary at times.
Finally, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), Will’s single mother, frantically searches for her son throughout the series along with her older son Jonathan (Charlie Heaton). She desperately tries anything she can think of to contact her son to know that he is safe, whether that is stringing up lights around the house or smashing a hole in the wall where she last saw her son. Joyce’s determination and slow build up of hysteria as the season progresses is believable and represents what any parent would likely do for her child.
A very important aspect of the actors of “Stranger Things” is that they look and act like ordinary people. Not all the actors and actresses are especially attractive and they were picked for their skill instead of their appearance. The arcade scene in the Season 2 trailer portrays typical behavior for young boys and the actors make it seem very natural. Even the teenage high school drama that goes on between Mike’s older sister and her boyfriend can be relatable to some. Viewers can see from the trailer that the drama between those two will continue throughout Season 2.
The series is also relatable due to its attention to detail and dedication to making the “Stranger Things” set look as a real representation of life in the 1980s. Instead of cell phones, we see landline phones. There is a Reagan-Bush ‘84 campaign sign on someone’s front lawn and the boys are dressed as the Ghostbusters in the Season 2 trailer. The furniture, the clothing, the hairstyles, and especially the music all work to build up a 1980s atmosphere when watching “Stranger Things.” One example of 80s music in this series is when The Clash’s hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is played multiple times since it was Will’s favorite song.
Last but not least, the visual graphics or CGI for the Demogorgon is incredibly detailed and realistic because of how far our technology has advanced in the media. The life-like portrayal of this monster adds to the terror that the viewer feels when watching this Netflix sci-fi TV show.
Hopefully, when Season 2 releases Oct. 27, we will see more of what makes this show immersive and realistic to viewers: the relatable characters, outstanding attention to detail in the set, music and CGI. For now, check out the season 2 trailer below:
Video from Netflix YouTube, cover image from Lowtrucks Wikimedia Commons