Design of the Week | Stranger Things
I admittedly cringe at nostalgia, particularly when it's being referenced or practiced by those in my generation. It's tough to hear someone in their mid-30s/40s talking about videogames. Or wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt. Or getting sweaty for the new Star Wars series.
So I went into Netflix's new series, Stranger Things, rather apprehensive. At first, I got super-excited because I thought it had something to do with Kelly Link's collection, Stranger Things Happen, because of 1) the similarity of the two titles, and 2) the flashlights on the key art. Kelly Link is awesome, and she and her husband Gavin Grant are two of the nicest, warmest, and flat-out best people in indie publishing. (Check Small Beer for stranger things.)
There are the recognizable tropes from the 80s shows of our childhood, from the clique of dorky kids who set out on an adventure to prove what the dense/rational adults around them struggle to grasp, to the synthesizer soundtrack, to the casting of actors like Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine. But what Stranger Things does well, is take those tropes and build upon them. It's like the foundation of the Goonies and the creepiness/mystery of Twin Peaks are still there, but enhanced by better pacing, characterization, camera-work, and style.
I suppose, in the end, that just means that Stranger Things modernized the 80s, which might be true. But I really enjoyed it, and am hoping they come through with an equally stellar second season.