Stranger Things takes us to a world of aliens, government conspiracies, child experimentation, "the upside-down," and a whole lotta '80s nostalgia. No wonder, the show is such a hit- with its third and most recent season alone being viewed by 64 million households, setting Netflix viewership records for an original series.
The sci-fi supernatural thriller series is firing on all cylinders for its fourth season set to drop sometime this year.
Are you hyped yet? If not, then read on as we give you the sum and substance of one of Netflix's flagship shows, including the plot details, the characters, and the critical and fan reception.
Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the year 1983, Stranger Things revolves around the lives of four prepubescent children, Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair.
When Will Byers mysteriously disappears, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas join the collective town effort along with Will's mother, Joyce; his older brother, Jonathan; and the police chief, Jim Hopper; to get to the bottom of the tragedy. Will's vanishing also happens to coincide with various supernatural events all through the small town that have the denizens of Hawkins on edge.
As their search leads them down a rabbit hole of government conspiracies and supernatural occurrences, the three friends come across a runaway girl with telekinetic abilities. Eleven- as they name her- helps them in their search of Will, but her enigmatic past raises more questions than answers.
As they fall deeper into the rabbit hole, the children are forced to reconcile that Will's disappearance is not a random occurrence - that the events all intertwine - that there are forces beyond human comprehension at work.
On their search, they unearth long-buried secrets, at the center of which is a supernatural force that threatens to destroy all of Hawkins, Indiana, and take them down along with it.
Cast And Characters
Stranger Things has a good balance of established names and up-and-coming stars to rejuvenate not only stagnant careers but also jump-start new ones.
Winona Ryder plays Joyce Byers, mother to Will and Jonathan Byers. At the epicenter of the tragedy, she leaves no stone unturned to find her youngest when he disappears.
David Harbour plays Jim Hopper, the chief officer of the Hawkins Police Department. He lost his daughter to cancer before the events of season 1 and became disillusioned with the world. He overcomes his growing nihilism and becomes instrumental in the search for Will Byers.
Noah Schnapp plays Will Byers, the youngest son of Joyce Byers. He disappears after a night out with his friends, galvanizing the town of Hawkins into a joined search effort. But his vanishing turns out to be a small plot on a grander supernatural conspiracy that threatens the entire town.
Millie Bobby Brown plays Eleven. She is discovered by Mike, Dustin, and Lucas on their search of Will, and they soon discover that she has supernatural abilities like telepathy and psychokinesis. She helps the trio find their friend while also attempting to piece together fragments of her enigmatic childhood.
Finn Wolfhard plays Mike Wheeler, one of the three best friends of Will Byers. He spearheads the search for Will upon his vanishing. He also provides refuge for a runaway girl, Eleven, with whom he gets involved romantically as the season progresses.
Gaten Matarazzo plays Dustin Henderson, one of the three best friends of Will Byers.
Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, one of the three best friends of Will Byers. He gets into a relationship with Max in season 2.
Natalia Dyer plays Nancy Wheeler, the older sister of Mike Wheeler. When her best friend Barbara dies, she finds herself unwittingly in the eye of the storm as she gets to the bottom of the murder. She dates Steve Harrington throughout season 1 and 2 but finds love with Jonathan Byers.
Charlie Heaton plays Jonathan Byers, the older son of Joyce Byers and the brother of Will Byers. A loner at heart, he finds love with Nancy Wheeler as the show progresses.
Joe Keery plays Steve Harrington. Initially, the popular jock boyfriend of Nancy Wheeler, his character, sees radical development to the show's resident good guy.
Sadie Sink plays Maxine "Max" Mayfield. Introduced in season 2, Max is an arcade-game prodigy and a tomboy who befriends Mike, Dustin, Will, and Lucas. She also gets involved romantically with Lucas.
Maya Hawke plays Robin Buckley. We are introduced to Robin in season 3, where she works at the ice-cream vendor in the local mall with Steve.
Critics And Fan Reviews
Stranger Things has been highly successful throughout its three-season run.
On IMDb, the Netflix series holds an 8.8/10 rating based on reviews by the site's 710k users. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season of Stranger Things holds an approval rate of 97%. The second and the third seasons would average 94% and 89%, respectively, clocking the overall rating of the series at 93%.
On Metacritic, the three seasons of the show holds an overall score of 75 out of 100 based on 95 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Among the contributors who gave their review on the show was David Wiegand, writing for the San Francisco Herald, who said in his review of the second season, among other things:
"There really is a kind of sophisticated genius behind Stranger Things, and while others may try to imitate what the Duffers are doing, it’s harder than it may seem."
Other reviewers included Lucy Mangan, writing for The Guardian, who said of the third season:
"It’s a real and joyful return to form for the show that has been taken fiercely to the hearts of people who weren’t there the first time round and, perhaps even more fiercely, by those who were."
Stranger Things has been a very profitable venture for Netflix, and from its inception, has set viewership milestones. The first season was the third-most viewed Netflix original series, averaging 14.07million viewers in the 18 to 49-demographic alone.
The third season broke the record for the most-viewed Netflix original series, with 40.7 million viewers watching the show within the first four days. The number would be in the high 64 million within the first month.
Awards And Accolades
Stranger Things has taken award ceremonies by storm and throughout its illustrious run, been nominated for 31 Primetime Emmy Awards (winning 6), 4 Golden Globe Awards, numerous Screen Actors Guild Guild Awards, Teen Choice Awards, and People's Choice Awards, to name a few.
Season 4 On The Horizon
The fourth season of Stranger Things has been confirmed for 2020.
Netflix made the announcement in September 2019 and confirmed it with a teaser trailer for season 4 on its official YouTube channel uploaded on February 15, 2020.
Is Stranger Things For You?
Stranger Things, some would say, is the pinnacle of modern television, and having watched all three seasons, we find it hard to argue!
A drama series that delves into such varying themes as the supernatural, aliens, government conspiracy, adolescent drama, and '80s nostalgia, the show has something for everybody.
For a show that has its roots in such diverse topics, the script would be expected to be bloated, but it plays out remarkably well on the screens. The special effects rarely seem out of place, and rather than seeming incongruous, the set and costume design transports audiences back to the glory days of the '80s.
Speaking of things that should be bloated but aren't, the ensemble cast of Stranger Things consists of established actors as well as actors who have just set foot into the industry. But no one seems out of place, nor do the up-and-comers get forgotten in the mix. In fact, it could be argued that the newcomers actually steal the spotlight from the likes of Winona Ryder and David Harbour.
Stranger Things has made a star out of Millie Bobby Brown, who is the unquestioned highlight of the show. There is rarely a scene in which Millie doesn't outshine her contemporaries. That is not to say that the others do a terrible job. On the contrary, everyone brought their A-game to the show.
The camaraderie between the Will, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas alone would be reason enough to watch the show. Add in Eleven, Max, and the stunning character arc of Steve Harrington from the popular jock douchebag to essentially the caretaker of the children, and you have the makings of a comedy-drama extravaganza.
The elements of the supernatural also provide a thrilling backdrop to the adolescent drama. Rarely is there a scene that is not dripping in tension and suspense!
Stranger Things is one of the best shows on television and is a callback to the '80s in more ways than one.