Stranger Things: Slow hype train to nowhere

Matt Rietveld / The Watchdog

After years of not having Netflix, I gave in a couple months ago and decided to try it out again. There are plenty of other ways to get video content to watch for free so it was never really a priority for me. One Netflix exclusive series that has a ton of buzz is “Stranger Things,” so I gave it a shot.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

With a full five-star rating on Netflix, Stranger Things is wildly popular. Just about everybody I’ve talked to about it absolutely loves it, even just saying “Stranger Things” to someone leads to passionate exclamations of how much they absolutely love the show. To be honest, I don’t really get it.

Set in the 80s in a small town in Indiana, “Stranger Things” is a mysterious supernatural thriller featuring kids playing Dungeons and Dragons, a dramatic teen love triangle, a girl with powers without a name and a shadowy government program of questionable moral alignment. By all rights, “Stranger Things” should be an amazing show.

“Stranger Things” is uniquely disappointing, it’s quite possibly the only show I know of where every aspect of the show is excellently done, except for the writing and story. The 80s setting comes across wonderfully, the acting is amazing, the filmography is fantastic, the music is out of this world, and certain sets of characters are completely lovable at face value, namely the D&D playing children. Notable is the portrayal of trauma and emotional injury so realistic that some survivors of trauma become uncomfortable watching, reminded so vividly of their own burden.

Being able to convey that emotional message so well is a feat of acting and filmography, yet still the show doesn’t cut it.

However, story is central and no matter how much one dresses up what surrounds the story, if the story isn’t good then the whole show falls flat, which I consider it to do. Above anything, the show is slow. Thankfully it’s a Netflix exclusive, if “Stranger Things” was a weekly broadcast TV show I doubt anybody would have the patience to continue watching. It’s pretty perfect for binging and I see it less of a TV show and more just a really, really long movie.

The pacing plods along with all the speed of an old, arthritic, indecisive elephant and most of the story is just so predictable that basically all mystery is lost. The teenage love triangle drama featuring the preppy jerk, the hardworking, good-hearted girl and the introverted outcast is just so mundane and badly done I cringe every time they appear on screen. The writing seems lazy across the board and plot holes are plentiful.

A true example of style over substance, “Stranger Things” has all the makings of a truly great show. By the accounts of basically everybody who watches it, it is a truly great show. With season two coming out, it will be interesting to see the reaction by the fan base.

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