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Stranger Things

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Created by  The Duffer Brothers
Original language(s)  English
First episode date  15 July 2016
9/10 IMDb

8.8/10 TV

Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons  1
Location  Jackson
Stranger Things httpsimagesnasslimagesamazoncomimagesMM
Starring  Winona RyderDavid HarbourFinn WolfhardMillie Bobby BrownGaten MatarazzoCaleb McLaughlinNatalia DyerCharlie HeatonCara BuonoMatthew ModineNoah SchnappJoe KeerySadie SinkDacre Montgomery
Composer(s)  Kyle DixonMichael Stein
Genres  Science Fiction, Horror fiction, Supernatural fiction, Historical period drama
Cast  Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Winona Ryder, Finn Wolfhard, Natalia Dyer
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Stranger Things is an American science fiction-horror web television series created, written, directed and co-executive produced by the Duffer Brothers, as well as co-executive-produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen. The first season stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono and Matthew Modine, with Noah Schnapp and Joe Keery in recurring roles. The second season will see Schnapp and Keery promoted to series regulars, along with the addition of Sadie Sink, and Dacre Montgomery.

Contents

Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s, the first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy by his friends, older brother and traumatized mother and the local police chief, amid supernatural events occurring around the town including the appearance of a psychokinetic girl who helps the missing boy's friends in their own search. The second season is set a year after the first, and deals with attempts of the characters to return to normal and consequences from that season.

The Duffer Brothers developed the series as a mix of investigative drama alongside supernatural elements with childlike sensibilities, establishing its time frame in the 1980s and creating a homage to pop culture of that decade. Several themes and directorial aspects were inspired and aesthetically informed by the works of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King, among others.

The series was released on Netflix on July 15, 2016. It received critical acclaim for its characterization, pacing, atmosphere, acting, soundtrack, directing, writing and homages to 1980s genre films. The series has received several industry nominations and awards, including winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2016. On August 31, 2016, Netflix renewed the series for a second season of nine episodes, which is set to be released on October 31, 2017.

Stranger things the first 8 minutes series opener hd netflix


Premise

Stranger Things is set in the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana during the 1980s. The nearby Hawkins National Laboratory ostensibly performs scientific research for the US Department of Energy, but secretly does experiments into the paranormal and supernatural, including those that involve human test subjects, which start to affect the unknowing residents of Hawkins in calamitous ways.

Main

  • Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, mother of 12-year-old Will Byers and teenager Jonathan Byers. Divorced from Lonnie, she relies on her older son, Jonathan, for help.
  • David Harbour as Jim Hopper, chief of Hawkins Police Department. Hopper divorced after his young daughter died of cancer, which caused him to lapse into alcoholism.
  • Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, son of Karen, younger brother of Nancy, and one of three friends of Will Byers. He is an intelligent and conscientious student and is committed to his friends.
  • Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven ("El"), a young girl with psychokinetic abilities and a limited vocabulary. She befriends Mike, Dustin, and Lucas. It is eventually revealed that she is actually Jane Ives, the biological daughter of Terry Ives. She escaped from Hawkins Laboratory where experiments were being performed on her.
  • Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, one of Will's friends. His cleidocranial dysplasia causes him to lisp.
  • Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, one of Will's friends. He is wary of Eleven, yet befriends her later on.
  • Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, daughter of Karen, older sister of Mike, and girlfriend of Steve Harrington.
  • Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers, the older brother of Will Byers and the son of Joyce Byers. Considered an outsider at school, he is a quiet teenager and an aspiring photographer. He is very close with his mother and brother.
  • Cara Buono as Karen Wheeler, mother of teenaged Nancy, middle schooler Mike, and toddler Holly.
  • Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner, the scientist in charge of Hawkins Laboratory and the experiments performed there. He is manipulative and remote. He and his team are searching for Eleven.
  • Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, the younger brother of Jonathan Byers and the son of Joyce Byers. He vanishes after encountering the monster that escaped through a rift to the "Upside Down", an alternate dimension, discovered by the Hawkins Laboratory scientists.
  • Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, the boyfriend of Nancy Wheeler. A popular student at the high school, he initially tries to develop a relationship with Nancy and ostracize Jonathan Byers, though he comes to regret the latter.
  • Sadie Sink as Max, a tomboy with a complicated history and a suspicion of those around her.
  • Dacre Montgomery as Billy, Max's older stepbrother, who has a violent and unpredictable nature hiding under his charisma.
  • Introduced in season one

  • Shannon Purser as Barbara "Barb" Holland, best friend of Nancy Wheeler. She is concerned that her and Nancy's friendship may be threatened by Nancy's relationship with Steve.
  • Ross Partridge as Lonnie Byers, the drunk, egotistical, selfish ex-husband of Joyce Byers and father of Jonathan and Will. He has a much younger girlfriend named Cynthia.
  • Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler, husband of Karen, father of teenaged Nancy, middle schooler Mike, and toddler Holly.
  • Mark Steger as The Monster, a creature that exists in the Upside Down. Referred to as "the Demogorgon" by Mike, Lucas and Dustin.
  • Rob Morgan as Powell, one of Hopper's officers. He is serious and by the book.
  • John Paul Reynolds as Callahan, another of Hopper's officers. Not nearly as serious as his partner, he still works hard in the search for Will Byers.
  • Randall P. Havens as Scott Clarke, the boys' teacher. He encourages their interest in science and technology and helps them whenever asked.
  • Aimee Mullins as Terry Ives, a woman who claims her daughter, Jane, was stolen from her shortly after she gave birth, but she has since gone into a mental state where she is unaware of her surroundings. It is implied that she is the biological mother of Eleven.
  • Catherine Dyer as Connie Frazier, Brenner's FBI enforcer who has no qualms about murdering those who have come into contact with Eleven.
  • Peyton Wich as Troy, a school bully of Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will.
  • Cade Jones as James, a school bully who hangs around with Troy.
  • Chester Rushing as Tommy H., former friend of Steve, and boyfriend of Carol.
  • Chelsea Talmadge as Carol, former friend of Steve, and girlfriend of Tommy.
  • Tinsley and Anniston Price as Holly Wheeler, daughter of Karen and Ted, younger sister of Nancy and Mike.
  • Chris Sullivan as Benny Hammond, owner and chef of Benny's Burgers, and friend of Hopper.
  • Tobias Jelinek as the lead agent at Hawkins National Laboratory, who assists Brenner.
  • Susan Shalhoub Larkin as Florence ("Flo"), the secretary at the Hawkins Police Station.
  • Introduced in season two

  • Sean Astin as Bob Newby, a former schoolmate of Joyce and Hopper, who now runs the Hawkins Radio Shack, and becomes Joyce's boyfriend, putting him at odds with Hopper.
  • Paul Reiser as Owens, a Department of Energy executive tasked with containing the events of the first season.
  • Linnea Berthelsen as Roman, a woman who was emotionally damaged as a child and has come to Hawkins due to events tied in with the strange events of the town.
  • Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman, a former journalist that became a conspiracy theorist, who visits Hawkins to go after a cold case.
  • Season 1 (2016)

    Season one starts in November 1983, when researchers at Hawkins National Laboratory open a rift to the "Upside Down", an alternate dimension, and a monster from the Upside Down escapes and abducts Will Byers. His mother, Joyce, and the town's police chief Jim Hopper, search for Will. At the same time, a young psychokinetic girl called Eleven escapes from the laboratory and assists Will's friends, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, in their own efforts to find Will.

    Season 2

    The second season will take place around Halloween (October 31) of 1984, about a year after the events of the first season, and will explore the "bigger mythology" of Will's disappearance, according to the Duffers. Levy described the second season as being about the "determined desire to return to normalcy in Hawkins" for Will, his family, his friends, and the other residents in the town affected by the events. Will suffers from "some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder" from his time in the Upside Down, and Joyce is attempting to help him deal with it, while trying to date her old classmate Bob to cover up her own emotions. Nancy and Mike are mourning for the apparent losses of their friends Barb and Eleven, respectively; however, Eleven is still alive and is a "major part of the season", according to Matt Duffer, and her backstory will be explored during the season. Chief Hopper struggles under the weight of having to cover up for the events of the first season to protect Will and Joyce; while some residents of Hawkins will be aware of these events, "certain people... don't know what happened", according to the Duffers. The laboratory, as well as the rift to the Upside Down, remains open and run by Dr. Owens. The characters will face "different kinds of horror" in contrast to the monster from the first season. Parts of the season will also take place outside of Hawkins, Indiana.

    Despite revealing episode titles for the season in the announcement teaser in order "to provide some hint of where we were going in season two without giving anything away," Matt Duffer stated that some of the titles would change, since there were some things "we didn't want to put on there because we felt like it would give too much away," and because "people are smart on the fucking internet" with fan-created "videos analyzing the chapter titles... right on a lot" of how the titles related to the plot of the season.

    Development

    Stranger Things was created by Matt and Ross Duffer, known professionally as the Duffer Brothers. The two had completed writing and producing their 2015 film Hidden, when television producer Donald De Line approached them, impressed with Hidden's script, and offered them the opportunity to work on episodes of Wayward Pines. The brothers worked under M. Night Shyamalan, who helped mentor the two, so that when they finished, they felt they were ready to produce their own television series.

    The Duffer Brothers prepared a script that would be essentially be similar to the series' actual pilot episode, along with a 20-page pitch book to help shop the series around for a network. They pitched the story to a number of cable networks, all of which rejected the script on the basis that they felt a plot centered around children as leading characters would not work, asking them to make it a children's show or to drop the children and focus on Hopper's investigation in the paranormal. In early 2015, Dan Cohen, the VP of 21 Laps Entertainment, brought the script to his colleague Shawn Levy. They subsequently invited the Duffer Brothers to their office and purchased the rights for the series, giving full authorship of it to the brothers. After reading the pilot, the streaming service Netflix purchased the whole season for an undisclosed amount; the show was subsequently announced for a planned 2016 release by Netflix in early April 2015. The Duffer Brothers stated that at the time they had pitched to Netflix, the service had already gotten recognized for its original programming, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, with well-recognized producers behind them, and were ready to start giving upcoming producers like them a chance. The brothers started to write out the series and brought Levy and Cohen in as executive producers to start casting and filming.

    The series was originally known as Montauk, as the setting of the script was in Montauk, New York and nearby Long Beach locations. The brothers had chosen Montauk as it had further Spielberg ties with the film Jaws, where Montauk was used for the fictional setting of Amity Island. After deciding to change the narrative of the series to take place in the fictional town of Hawkins instead, the brothers felt they could now do things to the town, such as placing it under quarantine, that they really could not envision with a real location. With the change in location, they had to come up with a new title for the series under direction from Netflix's Ted Sarandos so that they could start marketing it to the public. The brothers started by using a copy of Stephen King's Firestarter novel to consider the title's font and appearance, and came up with a long list of potential alternatives. Stranger Things came about as it sounded similar to another King novel, Needful Things, though Matt noted they still had a "lot of heated arguments" over this final title.

    With the critical success of the first season after its release in July 2016, speculation on a possible second season was raised. By the end of July, the Duffer Brothers had outlined a plan for such a season if it was green-lit, and Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings said in early August that the company "would be dumb not to" renew Stranger Things for a second season. On August 31, 2016, Netflix announced it had renewed Stranger Things for a second season of nine episodes, to be released in 2017. The Duffer Brothers revealed that the series had been renewed for a second season before the first premiered. Regarding the decision to wait more than a month after the first season premiered to announce the renewal, Matt Duffer said, "it actually ended up working because it had built up to this fever pitch. I guess that's what [Netflix] were intending to do all the time."

    The Duffers wrote the second season to make the combined first and second season feel like a complete work, but setting elements in place to go forward with additional seasons if they are green-lit. Levy noted in November 2016 that he and the Duffer Brothers had already begun planning a potential third season, saying, "We are not gonna be caught off guard and we don't wanna be making stuff up like the day before we have to write it and make it, so we are definitely optimistic and we have started thinking ahead." The Duffers anticipate having about four to five seasons to work with, but do want to "have a really finite ending" while the show is still at a height of success, according to Matt, rather than letting it draw out indefinitely

    Writing

    The idea of Stranger Things started with how the brothers felt they could take the concept of the 2013 film Prisoners, detailing the moral struggles a father goes through when his daughter is kidnapped, and expand it out over eight or so hours in a serialized television approach. As they focused on the missing child aspect of the story, they wanted to introduce the idea of "childlike sensibilities" they could offer, and toyed around with the idea of a monster that could consume humans. The brothers thought the combination of these things "was the best thing ever". To introduce this monster into the narrative, they considered "bizarre experiments we had read about taking place in the Cold War" such as Project MKUltra, which gave a way to ground the monster's existence in science rather than something spiritual. This also helped them to decide on using 1983 as the time period, as it was a year before the film Red Dawn came out, which focused on Cold War paranoia. Subsequently, they were able to use all their own personal inspirations from the 1980s, the decade they were born, as elements of the series, crafting it in the realm of science fiction and horror. The Duffer Brothers have cited as influence for the show (among others): Stephen King novels; films produced by Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas and Guillermo del Toro; films such as Alien and Stand by Me; Japanese anime such as Akira and Elfen Lied; and video games such as Silent Hill and The Last of Us.

    With Netflix as the platform, the Duffer Brothers were not limited to a typical 22-episode format, opting for the eight-episode approach. They had been concerned that a 22-episode season on broadcast television would be difficult to "tell a cinematic story" with that many episodes. Eight episodes allowed them to give time to characterization in addition to narrative development; if they had less time available, they would have had to remain committed to telling a horror film as soon as the monster was introduced and abandon the characterization. Within the eight episodes, the brothers aimed to make the first season "feel like a big movie" with all the major plot lines completed so that "the audience feels satisfied", but left enough unresolved to indicate "there's a bigger mythology, and there's a lot of dangling threads at the end", something that could be explored in further seasons if Netflix opted to create more.

    Regarding writing for the children characters of the series, the Duffer Brothers considered themselves as outcasts from other students while in high school and thus found it easy to write for Mike and his friends, and particularly for Barb. Joyce was fashioned after Richard Dryfuss's character Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as she appears "absolutely bonkers" to everyone else as she tries to find Will. Other characters, such as Billy in the second season, have more villainous attributes that are not necessarily obvious from the onset; Matt explained that they took further inspiration from Stephen King for these characters, as King "always has really great human villains" that may be more malicious than the supernatural evil.

    Casting

    In June 2015, it was announced that Winona Ryder and David Harbour had joined the series as Joyce and as the unnamed chief of police, respectively. The brothers' casting director Carmen Cuba had suggested Ryder for the role of Joyce, which the two were immediately drawn to because of her predominance in the films of the 1980s. Levy believed Ryder could "wretch up the emotional urgency and yet find layers and nuance and different sides of [Joyce]". Ryder praised that the show's multiple storylines required her to act for Joyce as "she's out of her mind, but she's actually kind of onto something", and that the producers had faith she could pull off the difficult role. The Duffer Brothers had been interested in Harbour before, who until Stranger Things primary had smaller roles as villainous characters, and they felt that he had been "waiting too long for this opportunity" to play a lead, while Harbour himself was thrilled by the script and the chance to play "a broken, flawed, anti-hero character".

    Additional casting followed two months later with Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Millie Bobby Brown in an undisclosed role, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas, Natalia Dyer as Nancy, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan. In September 2015, Cara Buono joined the cast as Karen, followed by Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner a month later. Additional cast who recur for the first season include Noah Schnapp as Will, Shannon Purser as Barbara "Barb" Holland, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, and Ross Partridge as Lonnie, among others.

    Actors auditioning for the children roles read lines from Stand By Me. The Duffer Brothers estimated they went through about a thousand different child actors for the roles. They noted that Wolfhard was already "a movie buff" of the films from the 1980s period and easily filled the role, while they found Matarazzo's audition to be much more authentic than most of the other audition tapes, and selected him after a single viewing of his audition tape. As casting was started immediately after Netflix greenlit the show, and prior to the scripts being fully completed, this allowed some of the actor's takes on the roles to reflect into the script. The casting of the young actors for Will and his friends had been done just after the first script was completed, and subsequent scripts incorporated aspects from these actors. The brothers said Modine provided significant input on the character of Dr. Brenner, whom they had not really fleshed out before as they considered him the hardest character to write for given his limited appearances within the narrative.

    In October 2016, it was announced that Schnapp and Keery had been promoted to the main cast for the second season, after each recurring in the first season, and that Sadie Sink and Dacre Montgomery would join the main cast as Max and Billy, respectively. Ryder, Harbour, Wolfhard, Brown, Matarazzo, McLaughlin, Dyer and Heaton also return for the season. Joining them in recurring roles include Sean Astin as Bob Newby, Paul Reiser as Owens, Linnea Berthelsen as Roman, and Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman. For Owens, the Duffer Brothers had referred to the character in their pitch to Netflix for the season as "Paul Reiser", and specifically alluded to Reiser's character Burke in Aliens, with Ross referencing James Cameron's casting choice for that film, saying, "[Cameron] thought people would inherently trust [Reiser] and it would be a twist". Reiser's son was a fan of Stranger Things, and gave his father an early appreciation of the series, so that by when the production called his agent about the role, Reiser was excited for the part.

    Filming

    The brothers had desired to film the series around the Long Island area to match the initial Montauk concept. However, with filming scheduled to take place in November 2015, it was difficult to shoot in Long Island in the cold weather, and the production started scouting locations in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area. The brothers, who grew up in North Carolina, found many places that reminded them of their own childhoods in that area, and felt the area would work well with the narrative shift to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.

    The filming of the first season began in November 2015 and was extensively done in Atlanta, Georgia, with the Duffer Brothers and Levy handling the direction of individual episodes. Jackson served as the basis of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Other shooting locations included the Georgia Mental Health Institute as the Hawkins National Laboratory site, Bellwood Quarry, Patrick Henry High School in Stockbridge, Georgia, for the middle and high school scenes, Emory University's Continuing Education Department, the former city hall in Douglasville, Georgia, Georgia International Horse Park, the probate court in Butts County, Georgia, Old East Point Library and East Point First Baptist Church in East Point, Georgia, Fayetteville, Georgia, Stone Mountain Park, Palmetto, Georgia, and Winston, Georgia. Set work was done at Screen Gem Studios in Atlanta. The series was filmed with a Red Dragon digital camera. Filming for the first season concluded in early 2016.

    While filming, the brothers tried to capture shots that could be seen as homages to many of the 1980s references they recalled. Their goal was not necessarily to fill the work with these references, but instead make the series seem to the viewer as a 1980s film. They spent little time reviewing those works and instead went by memory. Matt further recognized that some of their filming homages were not purposely done but were found to be very comparable, as highlighted by a fan-made video comparing the show to several 1980s works side-by-side. Matt commented on the video that "Some were deliberate and some were subconscious." The brothers recognized that many of the iconic scenes from these 1980s films, such as with Poltergeist, was about "taking a very ordinary object that people deal with every day, their television set, and imbuing it with something otherworldly", leading to the idea of using the Christmas light strings for Will to communicate with Joyce.

    The brothers attributed much of the 1980s feel to set and costume designers and the soundtrack composers that helped to recreate the era for them. Lynda Reiss, the head of props, had about a $220,000 budget, similar to most films, to acquire artifacts of the 1980s, using eBay and searching through flea markets and estate sales around the Atlanta area. The bulk of the props were original items from the 1980s with only a few pieces, such as the Dungeons & Dragons books made as replicas.

    Filming for the second season began on November 7, 2016, once again in and around the Atlanta Metro area. Andrew Stanton, director of Pixar's Finding Nemo and WALL-E, will direct the fifth and sixth episode of the second season. Levy stated that Stanton was a big fan of the show and called up Levy, offering his directorial abilities for the show. Rebecca Thomas will direct the seventh episode of the season. Unlike the first season, which they were able to film without any real security issues, the heightened awareness of the show required the producers to take significant steps to keep the show's production in secret while filming the second season. They spoke to the production team of HBO's Game of Thrones for tips and advice for securing filming sites, and have adopted code names for the series and various parts to allow the actors to speak to others without revealing details of the show's plot.

    Visual effects

    To create the aged effect for the series, a film grain was added over the footage, which was captured by scanning in film stock from the 1980s. The Duffers wanted to scare the audience, but not to necessarily make the show violent or gory, following in line with how the 1980s Amblin Entertainment films drove the creation of the PG-13 movie rating. It was "much more about mood and atmosphere and suspense and dread than they are about gore", though they were not afraid to push into more scary elements, particularly towards the end of the first season. The brothers had wanted to avoid any computer-generated effects for the monster and other parts of the series and stay with practical effects. However, the six-month filming time left them little time to plan out and test practical effects rigs for some of the shots. They went with a middle ground of using constructed props including one for the monster whenever they could, but for other shots, such as when the monster bursts through a wall, they opted to use digital effects. Post-production on the first season was completed the week before it was released to Netflix.

    The title sequence uses closeups of the letters in the Stranger Things title with a red tint against a black background as they slide into place within the title. The sequence was created by the studio Imaginary Forces, formerly part of R/GA, led by creative director Michelle Doughtey. Levy introduced the studio to the Duffer Brothers, who explained their vision of the 1980s-inspired show, which helped the studio to fix the concept the producers wanted. Later, but prior to filming, the producers sent Imaginary Forces the pilot script, the synth-heavy background music for the titles, as well as the various book covers from King and other authors that they had used to establish the title and imagery, and were looking for a similar approach for the show's titles, primarily using a typographical sequence. They took inspiration from several title sequences of works from the 1980s that were previously designed by Richard Greenberg under R/GA, such as Altered States and The Dead Zone. They also got input from Dan Perri, who worked on the title credits of several 1980s films. Various iterations included having letters vanish, to reflect the "missing" theme of the show, and having letters cast shadows on others, alluding to the mysteries, before settling into the sliding letters. The studio began working on the title sequence before filming, and took about a month off during the filming process to let the producers get immersed in the show and come back with more input. Initially they had been been working with various fonts for the title and used close-ups of the best features of these fonts, but near the end the producers wanted to work with ITC Benguiat, requiring them to rework those shots. The final sequence is fully computer generated, but they took inspiration from testing some practical effects, such as using Kodalith masks as would have been done in the 1980s, to develop the appropriate filters for the rendering software. The individual episode title cards used a "fly through" approach, similar to the film Bullitt, which the producers had suggested to the studio.

    Music

    The Stranger Things original soundtrack was composed by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of the electronic band Survive. It makes extensive use of synthesizers in homage to 1980s artists and film composers including Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Goblin, John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and Fabio Frizzi.

    According to Stein and Dixon, the Duffer Brothers had been fans of Survive's music, and used their song "Dirge" for the mock trailer that was used to sell the show to Netflix. Once the show was green-lit, the Duffers contacted Survive around July 2015 to ask if they were still doing music; the two provided the production team with dozens of songs from their band's past to gain their interest, helping to land them the role. Once aboard, the two worked with producers to select some of their older music to rework for the show, while developing new music, principally with character motifs. The two had been hired before the casting process, so their motif demos were used and played over the actors' audition tapes, aiding in the casting selection. The show's theme is based on an unused work Stein composed much earlier that ended up in the library of work they shared with the production staff, who thought that with some reworking would be good for the opening credits.

    In addition to original music, Stranger Things features period music from artists including The Clash, Toto, New Order, The Bangles, Foreigner, Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel and Corey Hart, as well as excerpts from Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter and Vangelis. In particular, The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" was specifically picked to play at pivotal moments of the story, such as when Will is trying to communicate with Joyce from the Upside Down.

    Soundtrack

    Stranger Things's original soundtrack, consisting of 36 songs from Stein and Dixon split across two volumes, was released by Lakeshore Records. Digital release and streaming options were released on August 10 and August 19, 2016 for the two volumes, respectively, while retail versions were available on September 16 and September 23, 2016. Limited editions of the soundtrack on vinyl, in both individual and a boxed set, are set for release in July 2017.

    Both volumes were nominated individually for the Best Score Soundtrack Category for the 2017 Grammy Awards, though neither won.

    Release

    The first season consisted of eight one-hour-long episodes which were released worldwide on Netflix on July 15, 2016, in Ultra HD 4K and HDR. The second season, consisting of nine episodes, is scheduled to be released on October 31, 2017. A teaser for the second season, which also announced the release date, aired during Super Bowl LI.

    Audience viewership

    As Netflix does not reveal subscriber viewership numbers for any of their original series, Symphony Technology Group compiled data for the season based on people using software on their phones that measures television viewing by detecting a program's sound. According to Symphony, within the first 35 days of release, Stranger Things averaged ratings around 14.07 million adults between the ages 18-49 in the United States. This made it the third most-watched season of Netflix original content in the US at the time behind the first season of Fuller House and season four of Orange Is the New Black. In a September 2016 analysis, Netflix found that Stranger Things "hooked" viewers by the second episode of the first season, indicating that the second episode was "the first installment that led at least 70 percent of viewers who watched that episode to complete the entire first season of a show." Google Trends data suggests the show is streamed the most by viewers in the State of Idaho.

    Critical reception

    Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the series an approval rating of 95% based on 61 reviews and a weighted average score of 8.1/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Exciting, heartbreaking, and sometimes scary, Stranger Things acts as an addictive homage to Spielberg films and vintage 1980s television." Review aggregator Metacritic gave the series a normalized score of 76 out of 100 based on 34 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

    IGN gave the score of 8 out of 10 and called the series "Great" saying, "Stranger Things is an easy recommendation, offering viewers an atmospheric and endearing series that is a nostalgic throwback without feeling like a simple copy." In a review of San Francisco Chronicle Dave Wiegand wrote: "Stranger Things reminds us of a time marked by a kind of no-strings escapism. And as it does so, we find ourselves yearning for it because the Duffers have made it so irresistibly appealing. There may be other equally great shows to watch this summer, but I guarantee you won't have more fun watching any of them than you will watching Stranger Things." Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club also reviewed it positively saying, "Balancing style and substance is always challenging for a series like Stranger Things, but the show is perfectly calibrated. It feels like watching a show produced during the era in which it's set, but with the craft of today's prestige television." Reviewing for HitFix, Alan Sepinwall said, "Over the course of the eight hours, the story and characters take on enough life of their own so that the references don't feel self-indulgent, and so that the series can be appreciated even if you don't know the plot of E.T. or the title font of Stephen King's early novels (a huge influence on the show's own opening credits) by heart."

    Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker also applauded the series and wrote, "This is astoundingly efficient storytelling, eight hours that pass in a blink, with even minor characters getting sharp dialogue, dark humor, or moments of pathos." Television critic Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times said, "For the most part, and in absolute defiance of the odds, Stranger Things honors its source material in the best way possible: By telling a sweet 'n' scary story in which monsters are real but so are the transformative powers of love and fealty." The Wall Street Journal's Brian Kelly said, "Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer, brothers and the show's creators, have done their homework when it comes to '80s cinema. Whether you're a fan of John Carpenter's The Thing or The Goonies is more your speed, there's plenty to like in Stranger Things."

    Commentary

    Shortly after its release, Stranger Things gained a cult following from avid viewers. One area of focus from these fans was the character of Barb, the nerdy friend and classmate of Nancy who is taken and killed by the monster early in the season. According to actress Shannon Purser, Barb "wasn't supposed to be a big deal", and the Duffer Brothers had not gone into great detail about the character since the focus was on finding Will. However, many fans sympathized with the character, with Laura Bradley of Vanity Fair suggesting that these people found that Barb would be a similar misfit in society, and "looks more like someone you might actually meet in real life" compared to the other characters, particularly Nancy, in the series. A hashtag "#ImWithBarb" grew in popularity after the series' release, and several fan sites and forums were created to support her. While Purser will not return for the second season, the Duffer Brothers used the real-life "Justice for Barb" movement as inspiration for narrative at the start of the second season, with Nancy addressing the fact "that no one ever cares about" Barb.

    Another impact of the series has been an increase demand for Eggo waffles, as they are shown to be Eleven's favorite food in several episodes and are seen as a representation of the show. The Kellogg Company, who produce Eggo, had not been part of the production prior to the first season's release, but recognized the market impact of the series. They provided a vintage 1980s Eggo television advertisement for Netflix to use in its Super Bowl LI commercial, and are looking to become more involved with cross-promotion.

    United States Representative David Cicilline compared the state of the nation during the presidency of Donald Trump to that of Stranger Things during a speech given in Congress on February 16, 2017, using a sign "Trump Things" in the same format as the title card of the show and saying "Like the main characters in Stranger Things, We are now stuck in the Upside Down".

    References

    Stranger Things Wikipedia


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