“Friends don’t lie.” For some, it is a simple statement. For fans of Stranger Things, however, it is one of the many themes of a hit series. This summer, the eight-episode Netflix show exploded in popularity, gaining critical acclaim and an immediate fan following.
Stranger Things got a 95 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes, which called it, “Exciting, heartbreaking, and sometimes scary.” It also got a nine out of ten from IMDB and 76 percent from Metacritic.
The show takes place in the 80s and focuses on a small town thrown into chaos when middle-schooler Will Byers goes missing. Soon, mysterious events begin taking place. Lights flicker for no reason, there are sightings of a strange creature, compasses all point to a new North.
The show weaves the narratives of all those investigating the strange events, with each perspective uncovering a different piece of the mystery slowly but surely. Will’s three best friends discover a telekinetic girl who claims to know where he is. Will’s mother witnesses events that lead her to believe her son is alive. The police chief Hopper digs deeper into the case and begins uncovering shady details about the town’s energy lab. Will’s brother captures a strange image on his camera and joins Mike’s sister, who claims to have seen a monster where Will disappeared.
The Duffer Brothers, the directors of the show, went through a long process to even get their series on screen. Before they proposed their idea to Netflix, they were rejected by over a dozen other companies. They said in an interview that Netflix was a rebel, and that was why they would agree to run such a crazy show.
Casting was also a strenuous process. Although they were able to cast Winona Ryder with just a rough draft of the script, the directors watched over 1,000 audition tapes for the child actors. Their hard work paid off.
Some of the most surprising elements of the show are the performances by the child actors. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is the unofficial leader of the other boys, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) plays the skeptical but most loyal of Will’s friends, and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) is the comic relief with the most memorable one-liners. The standout performance, however, is from Millie Bobby Brown, who plays the telekinetic girl Eleven. Her character speaks 246 words throughout the whole season, an average of 30 words per episode. Brown still manages to convey the fear, confusion, and rare moments of joy Eleven experiences with just her facial expressions.
Stranger Things was renewed for season two, which comes out in 2017. That leaves viewers who have not watched it with plenty of time to catch up on the mystery and nostalgia of season one.