For those who love Stephen King or can’t get enough of The X-Files or Supernatural, Netflix Streaming may feed your fix with Stranger Things, a summertime series that distinguishes itself from other shows. Created and directed by twin brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, Stranger Things is a must-see streaming show with dark, twisty plots, groovy eighties music, government conspiracies, and a few reveals you may not see coming (don’t worry, no spoilers). It also pays homage to 1980’s blockbusters like E.T., The Goonies, and Poltergeist.

Blast from the past

Stranger Things takes place in 1983 in a small town in Indiana, and the world is a much simpler place: Atari is all the rage, no one has a cell phone, kids get around on bicycles, and we get some memorable acting from movie star Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Heathers) and David Harbour (The Newsroom, State of Affairs).

Ryder and Harbour, while stars in their own right, are actually supporting players. The 8-episode series is seen through the eyes of four pre-teens, and one missing boy. That is the genius behind Stranger Things.

Conspiracy theory

As the series unfolds, we learn of a nearby secretive government agency that conducted mind-altering experiments on patients in the ’60s and early ’70s using psychedelic drugs.

One of the subjects was unknowingly pregnant (why they didn’t give the women pregnancy tests before dosing them psychoactive drugs is a minor quibble), and she eventually gives birth to a very special girl. Naturally, the government takes the child from her mother, who we meet later in the series, and tattoos the word Eleven on her arm.

If the plot sounds eerily familiar to Stephen King’s Firestarter, you get a gold star. Not only is it nearly identical, but the child—the result of giving a woman experimental psychedelics—is also telekinetic (like Carrie).

After the girl, Eleven, escapes from the government agency, her abilities become apparent in short order.

Eleven also finds her way to our group of pre-teen heroes, the real stars of Stranger Things. The show was shopped around to various networks and cable channels who all passed on producing it because the stars weren’t adults.

Only Netflix said yes. Keep that in mind as you’re flipping through the 900 channels on your television and you can’t find anything good to watch.

Creature feature

Moving concomitantly with this plotline is the story of a boy who is seemingly eaten by a mysterious creature from out of nowhere. The boy, Will, is part of a group of normal Midwestern kids who have a ‘guys only’ club, obsess about Star Wars, use walkie-talkies, and have vivid imaginations.

The other boys are determined to find out what happened to Will, where he went and to bring him back. Will’s mother, played by Winona Ryder, is a single parent working in a dead-end job and trying to make ends meet. After her son disappears, Ryder’s character Joyce Byers quickly devolves, and her singular mission is finding her son.

At any cost.

The Upside Down

As days drag on, with leads drying up, we watch the devolution of Joyce as she dons bedraggled clothes, relentlessly chain smokes, and is convinced her missing son is communicating with her via Christmas lights. The young boys, now working with Eleven, unite with Joyce and the Sheriff (Harbour) to find Will, and we finally learn what the government is hiding, and why things are only going to get stranger.

Since its release on July 15, it has become Netflix’s most-watched show in its history.

Grade: A-

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