Tuesday, 30 August 2016

What we think on Stranger things (season one)

We've subscribed for Netflix because new Ever After High movie; Epic Winter was released. It was a little disappointing. We didn't really like the story. You can argue visuals were nice but yea, this post is not about that one. 

We don't know what to do with the Netflix after we're done with show we subscribed for 'cus we've watched so many of the films (note: this is Finnish Netflix). We often try to find something to watch and this time Lind had heard some talking about the new Netflix original series called Stranger Things. So, we decided to check it out and ended up to watch first season as a whole. We didn't plan this but it was quite short for big surprise; just 8 episodes. So this is our opinion about the TV-series. This is going to contain minor spoilers marked on below.

Here's the trailer by Netflix.

We both are known skeptics and what it comes to our profession (aka story telling and moving image in general) very much so. Especially when mainstream has showed interest on something for example: don't get me started on Game of Thrones shortly; as a feminist and medieval fantasy fan I feel insulted. 
So, about Stranger Things our fist impression after the first episode was little intrigued because monsters are always nice and show itself was ranked at 80s.
Bad things were generic (and even bad) conventions especially how women were presented on show. Don't anybody else feel bored after seeing these same kind of old concepts?

Let's start with the plot. Shortly, show is sci-fi conspiracy located on isolated small town. Some people are lost and there's a mysterious monster at large. We thought show was located at 80s because aliens and space were kind of thing back then. In fact, show is just a gigantic nostalgia trip to everything invented in the 80s. Food, furniture, music, movies and such. We found this little annoying because the nostalgia was there just because. It didn't bring anything to story telling. It was just there to reference something that was new back then aka reference to us nowadays. 
You see, complicated I have to be to explain this?! x.x 

 Ancient tape player.

 80s movies hazmat suit.

 Eggos in a old toaster. We don't even knew what those were but google solved our problem.

Tempo is really fast and thus it's not surprised they could squeeze it to eight episodes. Story just keeps going forward really fast.
Good thing about Stranger things is that it's not too predictable. More often than not, some plot decisions take and unexpected turn or doesn't redeem something in a conventional way. This keeps the viewer interested even though the story wouldn't be anything new or unordinary.

About the characters which there are a lot we can mention some things. First bullied geek kids who play Dungeons and Dragons on the basement; Mike, Will, Lucas and Dustin. I consider them much of main characters of the show but it was sometimes quite infuriating to watch them. They yell. A lot. 
We feel like these boys are influenced by the childhood of the shows creators called Duffer brothers. And the whole show is a metaphor for a DnD campaign they've invented as boys.

(Left to right) Lucas, Mike and Dustin.

There's quite unpleasant police officer, Hopper, who at first is skeptical but then realizes the truth.
 Female character's are most conventional: The worried, single parent mother, Joyce, which is enough said because this is her whole character in a nutshell. Mother has two loser sons, Will and older one, Jonathan is a teenage photographer.
One of the characters is horny teenage girl, Nancy, with a boy issues. Nancy is the Mike's big sister. 

(left to right) Barbara and Nancy.

Last important female character is mysterious girl, called Eleven. "El" for short (because she needed a girl name...). She's roughly same age as the geek boys so, in a side plot, she naturally acts as a romantic aspiration for Mike. -,- Why? Every woman has some romance attached within. Either it is just sexualized side character or one of the main cast. WHY?!
El has a really short hair and we even couldn't tell she was a girl at first (and all the characters could) but in the end turns out women are supposed to have long hair. It's the womanhoods condition... (or not in our opinion.)

This is Eleven. She's quite androgynous in our opinion.

Well, we both think the monster seemed less scary every time more was revealed. This is often product of monster horror. Imaginary is always a lot more frightening than actually showing the monster.
They tried to patch holes in animation with flickering lights which is quite sad actually. Not because animators couldn't pull it together with the minimal time they had been given to. No. It's because in these kind of shows should have an epilepsy warning at the beginning. I mean. The whole story is based on lights.
I mean don't they remember what happened with Pokémon's first season, episode 038? The porygon one which caused children to have epileptic seizures?

Monster likes lights.

Besides these kind of "seizure scenes" didn't bring horror to the show. They are most of the time just plain unnecessary. They work only rarely and best movie I could give for example is horror thriller film called Mr.Jones (Dir. Karl Mueller. 2013) 
that has excellent lighting in general.

Do not read on if you don't want to spoil yourself one character's side plot. If you stop here, thank you for reading!
Otherwise follow the star dust rain below.

**** ***
*** * * *
***  *
**  *
**    *

So, this is about Nancy and we cannot dismiss this matter because this is a problem on our industry. So, let's keep it short. Nancy has an attraction to Steve (one of the bad boys in the school) and of course Nancy's friend Barbara thinks the Steve would interfere girls' friendship and is in general not as good Nancy thinks he is. Nancy slut shames Steve's ex girlfriends(because they had sex) but youngsters end up having sex after all. Meanwhile Jonathan who has a crush on Nancy creeps on the bushes next to Steve's house and takes pictures of them. After this, Steve sees Nancy and Johnathan together and misinterprets their relationship to be romantic. 
And it's Twilight all over again.
So, Steve ends up publicly slut shaming Nancy and brawling with Jonathan. In the end Nancy chooses the bad boy Steve without him apologizing properly in any point. She forgives him right away all though everyone around them suffered greatly from this situation.
It's always like this. Why boys can do anything and girls just forgive without them apologizing? Is this how it's supposed to be right? 
Dreadful thing to teach any girl or boy.

It's really great that Netflix produces series. All in our business really appreciates that and this series had a potential to be amazing. It's only real weakness is conventional female characters. Men usually have hard time writing female characters without letting them to fall into just big piece of repressive convention. 
Even something as simple as changing boy group into a girl group would have done so much and believe me; it would had made the series better for everyone.
Male characters also could have been adjusted a bit more interesting. Sadly, this industry needs a bit of a makeover in character department. 
 Series still is good but it falls on mainstream traps more than once.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Thank GOODNESS I did not read the spoiler!! LOL
    I haven't watched it yet but I always see it on Netflix and keep hearing good things about this series.


    1. Yea, it's worth watching absolutely. Let us know what you thought on it after you're done! :D

  2. YES!!! I enjoy reading your reviews about shows/movies and this is on point! Thank you for posting this.
    I'm obsessed with this show! My niche is mind control/conspiracies (MK Ultra), multiverse (parallel realities/universes) and aliens, which really hits home for me. Tbh I just LOVE sci-fi in general. :D
    I felt the episodes keep the viewer on edge on what's going to happen next but, personally found it to rather predictable having watched so many similar shows/movies. The plot is all to familiar and is intended to evoke a sense of nostalgia, which is why I think it chimes so well with people and has gained that esteemed mainstream popularity. (This vid goes through all the classic 80's sci-fi references: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N1rirHF6qk )
    Aside from that, I totally agree about romanticizing too. To me, it's unnecessary and plain cheesy to watch. I also did not like many of the character in the beginning but like them more that they've somewhat developed and redeemed those unlikable qualities... yet it feels incomplete. For instance, I did not like Nancy one bit at first, but now feel "meh" about her although I still don't care much about her anyway. "Men usually have hard time writing female characters without letting them to fall into just big piece of repressive convention." <<< You're brilliant, I couldn't have said it better myself! In the end, I really don't set high expectations bc most everything follows the same generic mold in essence.
    Either way, I still love the show and can't wait to for Season 2. Thanks again for posting :))
    ♡ Dulce

    1. Thank you very much reading, Dulce! :D It's really interesting to read observations from the fan of the genre. I agree with predictability. I bet sci-fi expert could have spotted some of the things we just couldn't think of. We just found dramatically interesting choices such as the part (*spoiler for anyone not seen the show and just happens to read this comment*) where Joyce has encountered monster for the first time and has fled from her house in fear but (most interestingly) returns to face to beast. Of course this is all explainable because she wants her son back more than anything but storywise you don't see much this kind of behavior in movies. It's fun so see some "less used dramaturgy tricks" in TV-series. Yea, absolutely. People love references from 70s 80s etc it's just thing now days. This show really hit a goal in this one :D About the last thing I agree, again, sadly. We don't set high expectations for these kind of stuff but we're hopeful. Especially when we both are working at business, we will try to make difference. :)


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