“STRANGER THINGS” STILL PACKS A NOSTALGIC PUNCH WITH SEASON 4
Written by Tony Schultz on June 27, 2022
Way back in 2016 before there was a glut of streaming services there was one king or streaming and that was Netflix. They were the ones that really pushed streaming services to the extreme by buying and producing original shows and movies. What started out as a few here and there has grown into it’s own library with some gaining critical acclaim. When I first saw the trailer for “Stranger Things” I was immediately interested due to the premise of the story taking place in the 1980s in Hawkins, Indiana and delving into the science fiction/horror genre. Scenes of stores long gone like Radio Shack and old style logos for Pizza Hut and Mountain Dew cans were littered throughout and added great detail to the feel they were going for. Since then “Stranger Things” has become a pop culture phenomenon with characters like 11 being labeled the hero, Eggo waffles becoming a main stay at all meals, and phrases like “Friends Don’t Lie”, and “Mouth Breathers” becoming part of everyday discussions. Ever since we were introduced to “the Upside down” and wondered what ever happened to Barb viewers have been emotionally attached to this group of kids that are constantly saving the world.
In Season 4 we find Mike, Dustin, Will, Lucas, and El (11) – the core characters since season 1 along with their recently new friend Max once again facing the supernatural forces that reside in Hawkins. El and will have moved away with his mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder) and older brother Johnathan to California to try to live a more normal life and hide El from the government bad guys trying to find her and exploit her powers. Meanwhile, local police chief and El’s adopted dad Jim Hopper (David Harbour) has been transported to Russia where he’s taken prisoner, because being an American in Russia wasn’t cool in Cold War Soviet Union. Lost? Batter start from the beginning or none of this makes any sense. At all. While the gang is separated they are drawn back together somewhat by spring break. Once again something from “the Upside down” is attacking kids in the real world reminiscent of Freddy Krueger. His name in Vecna and he is after kids that seem to have one thing in common. The only difference between him and Fred is that these attacks can happen right in front of witnesses and in broad daylight. But who would believe what they are even seeing? That’s always a strong premise with this show: have a strong base in horror movies that make you feel at home with their stories. They have this warm familiarity that at times has you realizing that you’ve seen this before just before they twist in a different direction that catches you fully off guard. Season 4 is no different and seems to take it to another level. If you’re not winching in terror you are laughing out loud. That’s the other side of the show in which you know these are kids and there has to still be some plausible reactions and moments of levity. The show basically drops the cast of “The Goonies” (in one season somewhat literally) into a horror movie that still hangs on to the adventure movie. While you have to believe in the unbelievable while watching it makes it easier because you constantly catch yourself going “My grandma had that couch!…. I remember that toy!…. That house was obviously built in the 70’s, am I right?!… I never realized how brown everything was back then… That’s a lot of wood paneling in every house.” and then the feeling of dread comes back at almost unanticipated times to have you hiding behind a pillow.
Season 4 has not been a disappointment. I make a point of that because many shows have let downs or sub-par seasons around these years. They’re not terrible, but it feels lackluster compared to previous seasons and plots. The newness of the show has worn off and we feel like they are trying too hard to reach our emotions. “Stranger Things Season 4” has not done that. In fact, it has boosted the emotional attachment with characters that weren’t in the first two seasons and by killing off characters that we grew fond of. “Lost” and “Game Of Thrones” made this staples of their shows and it made the stakes more real. “GOT” was able to take this to ever higher highs because of being on HBO and having little to no boundaries. With “Stranger Things” on Netflix they have some of the same range. However, they temper back some of it to keep it more of a soft R rating than a hard core R. Almost every character in this show is interesting in their own way and has their own story to see. Besides the young kids you have their older teenage siblings that are there as pillars of strength and added levity. Then there is Joyce and Hopper as the only two adults in town that really know what’s been going on besides the government scientists and cronies. “Stranger Things” does what not many shows similar to it can do, it makes every main character likable and needed for the story to continue. They are somewhat diverse, but it shows what happens when we get older and outgrow things and games and sometimes even our friends. Te show is so powerful and well done it has actually catapulted a relatively unknown song by Kate Bush called “Running Up That Hill” back onto not only the Classic Hits charts, but also the mainstream pop charts. You can hear the song being played right alongside Doja Cat and Justin Beiber. Part of that is because the style of the song actually sounds modern, but also because the scene in the show it is associated with is so powerful and near perfect that it will stick with you for a few days. Just like “Unchained Melody” with the movie “Ghost” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” that was used in “Wayne’s World” it has become a hit years after it was released. Is it more powerful because it wasn’t seen in major movie theaters? Hard to say. But you can’t deny the pop culture impact the show has had, and is still having. I strongly recommend you get on board and start binging this show so that when the final season hits next year you aren’t lost on the next trend it sets off or get everything spoiled for you. “Stranger Things” is a must watch and season 4 keeps it that way. So grab a plate of Eggo’s and settle in with friends and family with something that is as familiar as it is …. strange.