Stranger Things seemed to capture lightning in a bottle when it debuted on Netflix last summer. It brought influences from some of the best horror and mystery stories out there, but it managed to do so without feeling like a lesser, derivative work. It captured a moment in time for its characters, and its atmosphere deserved as much attention as those characters and their journeys.
The reviews are rolling in, and it looks like season two does it all over again, possibly even better than the first season. It’s not all good news though: I won’t be able to watch it this weekend.
Stranger Things aside, I can’t remember the last time I became so enamored with a piece of media—of any kind—that I devoured it, loved it, and kept thinking about it long after. Guardians of the Galaxy came close in 2014, but I knew roughly what to expect there. I’d picked up a few issues of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s 2008 run of the comic book on a whim, and I was eagerly awaiting the movie from the moment I found out about it.
Stranger Things was an unknown. I had a pretty good idea what kind of story it was going to be, but that held no promise of quality. There have been plenty of other movies and TV shows that pulled from the same influences Stranger Things pulled from but missed the mark in the end. Before watching the show, I had no idea how authentic its world would feel. I had no idea how relatable its characters would be. I had no idea that Stranger Things was going to be a perfect storm of world building and storytelling, of characters and atmosphere. I had no idea it was going to capture a moment in time and portray it so well that I’d still be thinking about it more than a year after watching it.
There are a lot of TV shows I’ve missed, current and past. On paper, Stranger Things was something right up my alley that deserved its jump right to the top of my watch list. In reality, it was (and is) more than that. Stranger Things is a phenomenon—it’s the kind of show that becomes more than just a show from the moment you get into it. Hawkins, Indiana isn’t just a place I’m seeing on my TV. It’s a place I’m transported to with every episode of Stranger Things.
It’s a place I can’t wait to be transported to again.