Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ takes us on an ultimate ’80s nostalgia adventure (spoilers)

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Image courtesy of Netflix

If you’re an ’80s baby like me, you could not resist binging all 8 episodes of ‘Stranger Things’ that premiered on Netflix this weekend. The show takes place in 1983 in a small Indiana town. A group of 12-year-old boys, who spend their time riding bikes, eating pizza, and playing Dungeons and Dragons, become consumed with the disappearance of their friend Will. At the same time, a mysterious girl they call “El” has appeared from the forest in need of shelter. El is harbored at Mike’s house in his basement game room, unbeknownst to the rest of his family. She is visibly shaken and unable to speak, either due to trauma or lack of socialization.

Immediately this feels like Steven Spielberg’s ET where we see some of El’s origin from a government lab run by men in hazmat suits, with her being experimented on. We later discover that she has telekinetic powers and her friendship with the boys becomes mutually beneficial. I immediately connected El and her TK powers with Akira, a cult anime movie from 1988. Both El and Tetsuo, a character in Akira, were threatened by the government trying to contain their telekinetic and psychic powers.

The Goonies influence in ‘Stranger Things’ is also strongly felt. The boys are often seen riding their bikes through the forest, and their uncensored and somewhat crass humor is absolutely refreshing. We just don’t get to watch kids yell “son of a bitch” anymore in movies these days that star children since they are often written to reflect what we think is appropriate behavior. Dustin, the goofy one, is challenged by their bullies to do “the arm thing”, reminiscent of Chunk’s truffle shuffle.

I caught only a few of mistakes with the time period, but none were enough to detract me from the show. One was when El was looking at pictures in Mike’s sister’s room. Some of the photos looked aged but others were way too processed and colorful for what was available at the time. The other had someone at Joyce’s house (Will’s mother) using her cordless phone without pulling out the 3-foot antenna. I get that this movement could have interfered with the scene but was completely necessary back then.

What else did ‘Stranger Things’ remind you of?

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