Stranger Things and the irresistible power of nostalgia

StrangerthingsStranger Things grabbed me by the throat from the first episode of Season One back in 2016. Its combination of homage to the kids' movies of my youth, the effervesence of the writing and the sheer exuberance of the young cast was just wonderful. It didn't hurt that Winona Ryder, with whom I have been in love since Beetlejuice, was there too. 

And while I didn't think seasons two or three quite lived up to the sheer unexpected brilliance of the first, I loved it all, and in particular the character development. (And Robin and Stevie in the ice cream shop outfits). 

 

But Season Four is everything. Writers, cast, designers and cinematographers are all back at their best. Everyone is a little older, of course. The story lines are a lot darker. Eleven is more terrifying and more vulnerable at the same time. Winona is still fire. 

But with all of that there is suddenly huge urgency in the plot. The danger is real and kids are dying horribly and so our heroes need to get the band back together one last time (sob!) to save the world.

And it is magnificent television. During lockdown we bought an absurdly large TV that is way too big for the house because there wasn't anything else to do. Now I know why we have it. The colour, the drama, the emotion and the brilliance fill every last previously unnecessary square inch. We should have gone for the 75 inch and just got rid of the kitchen.

The now famous scene that has relaunched Kate Bush back to the Top of the Pops - when Max is in peril in the upside down - is the most riveting television I have watched in years. Maybe ever. First time round I was out of the seat yelling, "Come on Max!" as if the whole thing was real. I've watched this scene - Stranger Things - many times since.

And here's the secret of Stranger Things. Despite its essential otherworldliness, it feels real. And I've been reflecting on why that is so, why the show is so moving and so compelling (on top of other qualities already mentioned). And I have come to the conclusion that it's because it reminds us what is to be young. 

In Season One, it's because you're suddenly remembering how great ET and The Goonies were the first time you saw them. In Season Four, you remember what it is to be foolish, to be brave, to have a best friend, to fall in love, to have an enemy, to have an adventure. And that's the most addictive of all the drugs. 

I can't wait for Season Five or Season Four.One or whatever the hell they decide to call it. But it also brings the end, and goodness me that will be a sad day. 

If you haven't seen Stranger Things, I envy you. Get started right now. 


August 22, 2022

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