Saturday, July 23, 2016

Stranger Things Happened... And Now I'm In Love

I'm not sure I've EVER enjoyed a TV series more than Stranger Things, so prepare for a rave, my friends. Only with less glow sticks and more of this awesome fan art action:



The official promo art gives a better idea of the series' overall feel, though:
 Doesn't this look like the cover of every paperback you read in middle school? Love it.


WHO SHOULD WATCH: Anyone who grew up in the 80s, and/or anyone who loves 80s ensemble kid-hero movies like Goonies, E.T., and Explorers.

WHO SHOULD NOT WATCH: Anyone who thinks X-files was too creepy. There are definitely some Supernatural level scares, but thankfully not much Supernatural level gore. If you can make it through the first 2 episodes, you'll be fine; that's about as bad as it gets. (Parents, I'd pre-screen.)

WHY YOU SHOULD TRY IT EITHER WAY:  

1) Stranger Things is compelling, heartwarming, nostalgic, and scary - in that order. There's a reason everyone seems to be binge-watching it; the story sucks you in almost immediately, and won't let go.

2) The characters are refreshingly REAL in a very Freaks & Geeks way. You can relate to them. You believe them. You believe the reasons they do what they do. And you're going to love more of them than you'd expect.



They're not all Highschool Musical heartthrobs, either, which makes me happy. (Anyone else tired of Hollywood passing off twenty-something cover models as high schoolers, and trying to convince us plastic perfection is the norm during childhood? Then watch this.)

3) Mega Girl Power.  I won't say more because spoilers, but ermergersh YES to more badass females.

4) Perfect pacing and character development. There are no lulls, and some of the characters will surprise you, often in fantastic ways. (I especially love Hop's story arc.)

5) It ends as well as it begins. (Which is really, REALLY well.)

How many shows start strong and then limp to the end with some nonsensical finale? (Lookin' at you, LOST.) Not this one. I CHEERED as the last credits rolled, you guys. CHEERED. Just enough resolution, while still hinting at a next season. Perfection.

Go. Watch.

Oh, but before you do, lemme announce this month's art winners!

SO...
The winner of the Mario print is: Kari Selph
The winner of the Maleficent print is: Jessy Southard Strohmeyer
And my wild card winner is: Amy from Williamsburg

Congrats, you three, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!

38 comments:

  1. In love with shinyJuly 23, 2016 at 11:23 AM

    I'm glad you reviewed this, because somehow my brain confused it with Needful Things!

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    1. I'm pretty sure that's deliberate on the part of the makers of Stranger Things. The title font is extremely similar to the font on most of Stephen King's books, and there are several references to Stephen King in the episodes. He even tweeted this: "Watching STRANGER THINGS is looking watching Steve King's Greatest Hits. I mean that in a good way." IMO, the entire show is an homage.

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    2. In love with shinyJuly 23, 2016 at 5:18 PM

      Thank you! I now feel much better about my mix-up :)

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  2. I have been so impressed with every Netflix original show I have watched, they really pick some winners!

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  3. I loved it too! I only discovered it Thursday night, and binge-watched the whole series 'till almost one a.m. It was so well done. I DID feel nostalgic for the eighties, and I definitely felt like it was inspired by so many greats like E.T., Stand By Me, IT and especially Dreamcatcher. Can't wait for another season! I hope it happens, and soon! It would be great to keep all the same actors, but not have them age three years while only a little while has passed in the story.

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  4. Watched the entire thing two days ago and loved it. To me it just felt like a combination of all the best Stephen King novels wrapped into one - but without the usual let-down that his endings usually are. It's fantastic.

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  5. We loved this and binged as quickly as parents of little people can.

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  6. I am a giant wuss when it comes to scary movies so there were definitely moments for me where I was watching through the cracks in my fingers, but I couldn't stop watching because I just felt so compelled by the story line. They really found amazing young actors and actresses who were very believable and made me care about them from the get go. I think it's easy to make an 80's homage super campy, but this was not cheesy in any regards. Definitely a binge-watch worthy show.

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  7. Hmmmm, guess I will have to look into getting Netflix. I seem to be one of the few people left in the world without a subscription to it.

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  8. We are loving this series, but don't start unless you have time to binge at least 3-4 episodes. You can't watch just one!

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  9. Gods, six years later (it's six, right? Or seven now?), and I'm still pissed off at the last episode of 'Lost'. And 'How I Met Your Mother', but that's a different kind of anger. Anywho, thanks for the review! I've seen pics from it on Tumblr, but there hasn't been much in terms of details about it.

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  10. We watched the entire thing in 3 days (even with our kiddos!) I was such a great homage to the 80's-my hubby and I were hooked from the first episode. My brother in law works for the company that created the special effects for the series, so we knew it was going to be awesome! Stranger Things did NOT disappoint! (And whoever came up with the title sequence and the music is a freaking genius)

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  11. Cool, thanks for the review. I had been kind of on the fence about it, since I'm not a huge fan of scary shows, but now I'll add this to the queue and check it out.

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  12. love the fan art and really need to make time to watch this :)

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  13. I just watched the whole thing last night! I'd heard good things about it and I typically watch a horror movie or two on Netflix on Friday nights so I decided to watch an ep or two of that instead...at 8 pm...which turned into finishing the last episode at 3 am!! It kept getting better and better with each episode. Definitely enjoyed! Great review!! :)

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  14. Other than El I didn't get a lot of strong female vibes from this show (although, I haven't watched the final episode yet). Without getting spoiler-y, there was one scene that was pretty horrible in terms of slut shaming, and the typical use of terms describing female genetalia to insult someone's manhood. The new ghostbusters movie makes me want an 80s kid hero ensemble reboot where the "pack" has some better female representation!! Or better yet, 4 awesome girls with a couple boys on the side!

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  15. I watched the trailer, and it was way more creepy than I was comfortable with. Maybe I was watching the trailer for a different new Netflix show? :P

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  16. I had to cover my eyes only once in the first episode, but now I'm totally hooked...love the kids in it and want it all to turn out...Thanks for the good recommendation!

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  17. I really did enjoy this a lot, but like Kim, I don't think it should be oversold on a girl power front. I realized in retrospect that (I think) it doesn't pass the very low bar of the Bechdel test (unless it's in the last episode which I admit I skimmed.) The three main female characters are each in their own story silo with multiple men.

    I did really take to Eleven though. I'd love to see a season two just about her.

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  19. Let me just echo my "me too" on Jen's comments and preface this by saying, 1983 was *my* time. I was a freshman in college and I lived this era and all the movies drawn from it for this. I saw the "inspiration movies" when they were released originally in the theaters. I know this era! :-)

    The thing that really grabbed me from the first episode was the time period authenticity. It's not just a show set in the 80's, it IS 80's in every way possible from a 2016 shooting. The logo design is period authentic especially the font choice. The music for the opening sequence it spot on 80's style and sound; it sounds so analog and not at all digital. The lighting, framing and even dialogue/acting style all could have been lifted straight out of 1983. I know the creators paid a lot, A LOT, of homage to the movies of the time but they did more than an homage, they recreated the style, period, sound perfectly. It was a definite blast from the past for me.

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  21. Oh, thank you! Going to start watching immediately. This is EXACTLY my kind of show

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  22. Oh, I loved the kids in this show so much. They looked and acted like NORMAL kids. No supermodels, no sassypants kids using dialogue better suited to a 30-year-old cynic, no being rotten to their families and friends, just sweet, flawed, silly, innovative, amazing regular kids...they made this show so BELIEVABLE! I also appreciated that Winona Ryder's mother wasn't a bumbling idiot, they really improved on the "mom" front from the 80s, nobody forgetting their daughter's 16th birthday or leaving their kid at home while they flew to Paris nonsense. This show respects kids and mothers.

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  23. Can't read post.... still missing 1 1/2episodes to finish stranger things....but OMG I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SHOW !!! I mean, I know I should trust you not to give any spoilers but I get weird like that.

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  24. I wasn't planning on watching it because I didn't see any females in the promo shots and I am beyond done giving my time to stories about guys. I was super bummed because it looked interesting and now I have a vague amount of hope

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  25. I was so happy to see your post about this. I didn't know anyone else had seen this! You nailed it! We happened across this on Netflix and binge-watched the entire season in three nights. We already can't wait for the second season!

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  26. Holy cow!!! I have soo much love for this show!!! Its like every 80's kids movie, Are you afraid of the dark? and or the X Files had a baby!!! I binge watched most of it last night I have 1 episode left and I want to watch it/ don't want to because who knows when there will be more!!!Yall know what i'm talking about! Its like every book i ever read as a kid and I don't think i've been this jazzed for a show in a while!!

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  27. I'm only two episodes in, but I think I'm developing a serious obsession. I blame you, Jen. : D

    -Just Andrea

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  28. Loved the show. The kids were all amazing, and I loved Hop. The creators said that their are plans for sequels!!!

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  29. My daughter and I started this yesterday and we are hooked. We have only watched the first two but LOVED it. Now she wants to watch without me when I am at work..NO way. ;-) Thanks for telling us about it.

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  30. Just watched the first episode yesterday! I really enjoyed the whole look and feel.

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  31. I've never binge watched a show before - but after reading your review, I watched all 8 episodes yesterday! (Well, since I was still watching at midnight, I guess it was a little into today, too.) Thanks! Loved it! Glad I didn't have anything I needed to do yesterday evening!

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  32. I just binged all eight episodes yesterday and I can't wait for more. Such an amazing show.

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  33. Thank you so much for the recommendation! I totally spent all yesterday afternoon and evening binge watching this amazing series (not even going to feel guilty about it because it was way too hot to do anything outside). Seriously, as soon as the intro started, I felt instantly transported back to my childhood!

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  34. Thank you for turning us on to this, Jen. Loved it! Especially all the references to other child-centered sci if movies, like ET, The Goonies, Stand By Me, even Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I do have on disagreement with you. I found the scary/creepy factor intensified over the episodes. I was not able to watch more than one at a time. I needed a break after each one.

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  35. Great show! I agree with your review 100%. Especially the part about the end (Lost's WAS a let down) and the "real" actors. So sick of "perfect" looking actors. Btw Hollywood, no one is!
    Can't wait for the next season.

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