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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Got 8 Hours To Spare? Watch ‘Stranger Things’

Stranger+Things
Stranger Things

Before I begin this review, I would like to make one thing clear: I don’t really binge watch television. My idea of binge watching TV is three 30 minute episodes, tops. So when I started watching “Stranger Things” at six in the evening, I was very surprised to find myself still watching television at one in the morning. Yes, that’s right. I watched seven hours of television in one sitting.
I do not regret it.
Naturally, there will be spoilers ahead.
“Stranger Things” is a Netflix original series that came out in July 2016. There are 8 episodes this season and each episode is approximately an hour long. The setting of the show is in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the year 1983. The story starts when a 12-year-old boy, Will Byers, vanishes on his way home from a friend’s house after being kidnapped by a monster. His disappearance sets off the rest of the main plots.
In their most basic forms, the three main plots are homages to ‘80s movies: a government conspiracy thriller, a teen monster movie, and a coming of age story.
The government conspiracy plot includes Will’s mother, Joyce Byers (played by Winona Rider) and Police Chief Jim Hopper (played by David Harbour) trying to find Will as the government agency responsible for his disappearance desperately tries to cover it up. It is slowly revealed that the monster, referred to by the younger characters as the Demogorgon, has taken Will into a place called the Upside-Down.
The Upside-Down is a terrifying alternate dimension of our world. Because Will is still alive in the Upside-Down, he is able to contact his mother through the lights in the house. Through this form of contact, Joyce is able to gather clues about where Will may be. Unfortunately, when Will contacts his mother, the Demogorgon also arrives and attempts to get through the walls of the Byer house. 
At this point, no one in town believes Will is still alive. This becomes especially apparent when the government agency responsible for the Demogorgon’s appearance places a fake body in the local quarry. Only when Hopper breaks into the local morgue and cuts open “Will’s” body open is it revealed that the body is a fake. This is the evidence that causes Hopper to believe Joyce’s assertions that Will is still alive.
The second plot, the teen monster plot, involves Jonathan, Will Byer’s brother, and Nancy Wheeler, the sister of Will’s friend. The pair try to find and kill the Demogorgon after it takes Nancy’s best friend Barb in addition to Will. This plot plays with a few horror tropes, including death by sex. What’s refreshing about “Stranger Things” is that it completely subverts this trope. Nancy manages to not be taken by the Demogorgon by going inside at a party and hooking up with her boyfriend. Barb is taken because she decides to stay outside while everyone else at the small party goes inside to hook up. 
This plot also allows us to see another side of Nancy. When Jonathan practices shooting a gun so he can kill the Demogorgon, he misses every target. Nancy, however, takes the gun and hits the targets with ease. It’s mutually decided that Nancy will use the gun and Jonathan will use the nail bat when they hunt the monster. It’s refreshing to see a male character accept that a female is better than him at something without whining about it. Nancy’s strength is welcomed and not put down.
In this plot, there is also a love triangle between Jonathan, Nancy, and Nancy’s boyfriend, Steve. In the beginning, Steve is a bit of a jerk. He’s the typical ‘80s popular kid and hangs out with the other popular kids—who are also jerks. I admit I was a bit worried to see where the love triangle was going to go. In most TV shows or movies, the male “hero”—in this case, Jonathan—would get the girl in the end.
For me personally, it’s satisfying to see Nancy choose who she wants to be with—Steve. And while Steve is a jerk at first, he eventually grows into someone a more likable and even has his own character arc. By the end of the series, he’s shown to truly care for Nancy and is willing to put his hostilities for Jonathan aside to defeat the Demogorgon. It’s also nice to see that Nancy is not a prize to be won. She gets to make her own decisions about who she wants to date, which is rare in most forms of media.
Finally, we come to the last of the three main plots: the coming of age story. In this plot, we have Will’s friends Mike Wheeler, Lucas, and Dustin desperately looking for their friend. On the way, they come across a girl with a tattoo of the number 11 on her arm. She says her name is Eleven and the boys give her the nickname El. The boys quickly become aware that she has psychokinesis. It is only when the three plots come together that the characters are able to find Will and defeat the Demogorgon.
“Stranger Things” is extremely well done. The acting is fantastic, especially the acting of the younger actors. The storyline is well thought out, and the special effects are great. There are a lot of ‘80s pop culture references and Easter eggs thrown into the show as well. “Stranger Things” is definitely something to watch when you have 8 hours, because you will sit there and watch the entire series in one go.