It’s being described as Stephen King meets Steven Spielberg—a curious combination comprised of part Stand by Me, part Poltergeist and part JFK.
The eight-episode series on Netflix has captured the attention of Canadians seemingly overnight.
Winona Ryder has been getting rave reviews for her performance and there are characters you cannot help but love to hate. Throw in the old-school Tupperware and the bad hairdos and viewers have found themselves jumping down that ‘80s rabbit hole faster than you could zip up a pair of Fancy Ass jeans.
But what is it about the show that has people so excited?
Global News entertainment reporter Chris Jancelewicz believes it has something to do with that longing inside all of us for simpler times.
“There’s this intense craving for nostalgia and connectivity at the moment in pop culture – which could be a result of a volatile election south of the border, or maybe because the summer movie roster isn’t performing as well as it should. From the music to the aesthetic of Stranger Things, it’s like a time machine back to the ‘80s, when things were easier and more carefree (at least in our minds).”
TV critic Bill Brioux agrees about the timing.
“I think dropping it in the middle of the summer has helped deflect some social media chatter away from some even stranger things such as Donald Trump. Besides, there’s always going to be viewers who want to be the first to see the latest distraction,” Brioux said.
Certain shows have recently exploded exponentially in popularity. The acronym OITNB (Orange is the New Black) became a part of everyday vernacular in 2013. The fight for the wrongfully accused went all the way to the White House after Making a Murderer was released in December 2015. And the summer of 2016 will be remembered as the moment we met mysterious main character “Eleven.”
THIRST FOR MORE
The one common thread between all of those shows is the way we consume them.
Jancelewicz believes the evolution of content delivery plays a significant role in the skyrocketing popularity of certain series.
“No question that impacts the way people ingest shows. While we may have lost that tantalizing feeling waiting week-to-week for new episodes, we’ve gained this whole new thing where we’re compelled to take in the entire show over the course of one day (OK, maybe two),” Jancelewicz said.
“Shows delivered in this manner explode on the social scene and then further propel large groups to watch it.”
Brioux describes the ability to binge-watch as the secret to success of the streaming business model.
“Digital content providers such as Netflix are getting very savvy at exploiting this by stoking the social media machine. They save millions on advertising and promotion by getting viewers and the press to spread the word — brilliant.”
THE ACROBAT AND THE FLEA
To borrow a concept from Stranger Things, part of the allure of this particular series seems to come from the balance between perspectives.
One viewer described it as walking the line between a child’s reality and an adult’s; innocence maintained through darkness.
“Everyone loves a mystery, especially involving a child with special powers. That will never lose its appeal,” Jancelewicz said.
This balance even extends to the actors. Brioux believes part of the draw to the show is that 30-somethings are curious to see how Ryder is holding up after her fall from grace when she was caught shoplifting in 2001.
He points to the talent in the younger actors as well.
“Hopefully viewers who are tuning in are becoming fans of the fine young Canadians in the juvenile cast, including B.C.’s Finn Wolfhard.”