“Stranger Things,” the recent retro-inspired Netflix original series, has more than just its fans buzzing. From the moment the title appears, even small things like the font instantly propel audiences back in time. The eerie glowing letters evoke a dark curiosity for the story, thanks to the atmosphere of the original composition of dream-like music from Survive. The collaborative playlist, released in response to crowd demand, seems to resonate with many people, attracting more than 100,000 downloads. The avant-garde tracks showcase an evolution of music, from synthesizer-heavy instrumentals to energetic punk rock songs, conjuring imagery from specific scenes. Every detail exemplifies 1980s style through referential nostalgia, while maintaining relevancy to multiple age groups, from Millennials to Gen Z.
There are generally recurring psychological and physiological themes in supernatural-tinged entertainment, and this series delivers on those promises. Drawing on fear of the unknown, the main character displays telekinetic powers and superhuman strength, abilities that often leave the character known as “Eleven” with a trope that is frequently referred to as a “psychic nosebleed.” This physical reaction has little to no scientific evidence behind it, yet suggests that the character is in some sort of trouble or under some kind of strain. The casting of several female lead characters plays into a growing trend in entertainment as the topic of wage equality continues to trend in media. The use of actual kids as both hero and enemy figures instead of 30 year olds portraying teenagers provides a nostalgic, authentic feel to this adventure.
Fanfare surrounding “Stranger Things” has given rise to DIY fan art and unlicensed memorabilia—from custom VHS covers and other original art, to figurines and enamel pins of the show’s colorful characters. Viewers seem to have gone out of their way to distribute both praise for and acknowledgment of the first season’s success. The web is humming with posts suggesting upcoming plot twists and decoding clues as to what will happen next. Additionally, the creators would love a video game to be developed, allowing players to fully immerse themselves in the ongoing story, and create their own journey into the Upside Down world.
Overall, the swift popularity of “Stranger Things” is encouraging more titles to bypass the theater, in favor of multiple-season streaming for home or mobile viewing. This signals a move toward a more personalized entertainment experience, and it fits perfectly into today’s on-the-go lifestyle. If the community of dedicated “Stranger Things” fans has any say in the matter, it will undoubtedly be the next cult favorite for a while.