By Nora Lowe
I can guarantee that over the summer a significant amount of BHHS students happily binge watched some Netflix shows, including the freshly created Stranger Things 3. Now, as we are reminiscing about our relaxing summer, we can still look forward to the occasional weekend TV session, and there are a plethora of options to peruse.
On July fourth, 2019, season three of the acclaimed Netflix series, Stranger Things, was released. This was a long awaited event for countless Stranger Things specialists, but I was completely oblivious. Almost every student has a gap in their knowledge, and this spectrum of pop culture was mine. However, after befriending a Stranger Things enthusiast, I was compelled to begin the series.
The first notable aspect of the show I found out is that it includes a BHHS graduate! David Harbour, who plays the lovable yet serious deputy sheriff, graduated from Byram Hills and lived in Armonk as a young adult. When I asked around though, I found that this fact alone wasn’t what appealed to students. Byram junior, Griffen Nenner, said that having a BHHS grad was “more of just a cool fact” rather than something that would make Byram students inclined to watch. A sophomore who prefered to stay unnamed agreed that she was “attracted to shows because of their storyline” as opposed to a “singular actor.”
Before examining the third season, it is helpful to have some general knowledge regarding the series as a whole. Sammy Hadiono, a BHHS sophomore, comments that “Stranger Things is one of the most exhilarating shows out there. It’s filled with a roller coaster of emotions and excitement.” That is why he agrees with many that it is a “must-watch show.”
The first ever episode was released on July 15, 2016. The first season followed the story of a small town called Hawkins as they desperately search for a young boy who went missing, Will Beyers. His friends, Dustin, Mike, and Lucas embark on a wild goose chase to find him. They enlist the help of his mother, the town policeman, and Mike’s sister. In doing so, they stumble upon the disturbing truth. Involved is a laboratory, a young female fugitive with superpowers (Eleven), a monster (the infamous demogorgon), conspiracies, and coverups. Essentially, the local Hawkins Lab accidently released a demogorgon after opening a portal to the “Upsidedown”, an alternate dimension riddled with disturbing creatures. Ultimately, Will is rescued and Hawkins rejoices.
On October 27, 2017, Stranger Things 2 was released after fans demanded a continuation of the storyline. Will resumes his normal life in Hawkins with his friends. Eleven, who was instrumental in finding Will, joins their gang. Soon it is discovered that Will was left tainted by the Upside Down, and is actually being used as a spy by the demogorgon. After many plot twists they drive the dark forces (the so called “Mind Flayer”) out of Will, and Eleven uses her powers to close the breach to the Upside Down.
Finally, the anticipated season three is released, taking place in the summer of 1985. Max, a new addition to Will’s group, stirs up some drama as the plot thickens to accommodate not only the logistics of fighting dark forces themselves, but examining the complexities of the relationships between each of the characters. This even accounts for some coming of age scenes. The gang work together once again to combat this season’s many antagonists. When Eleven closed the gate to the Upsidedown in season 2, she accidentally trapped the Mind Flayer in Hawkins, leaving it available to possess various town members and spread beneath the surface of the oblivious town. In an epic battle at the Hawkins Mall with a multitude of enemies including Russian scientists and the mind-controlled minions of the Mind Flayer, they shut the breach and defeat the forces of evil again. Hopper, the father figure to Eleven, is unfortunately killed. Will Beyers, his family, and Eleven pack up and leave town in a tearful ending to the season.
It is quite difficult to comment on the show in terms of its plot so I prefer to review it as a whole. Something that is done extraordinarily well is staying consistent with the style of the 1980s. From the makeup, to the outfits, even the background music, everything is time appropriate. Ewa Miano, a BHHS sophomore and fan of the show, comments that “It’s a very stylistic show. It’s aesthetic is really garnered around nostalgia, and that whole retro vibe.” This “retro vibe” is likely responsible for its popularity. This can be credited to the strict rules enforced by the Duffer Brothers, the producers of the show. Makeup must be done on set, and cell phones are not allowed while filming. Hair and body-type are closely regulated to maintain accuracy. Ewa elaborates, saying that recently “we’ve seen a huge surge of 80s, 90s, and early 2000s styles.” The viewer can definitely appreciate this meticulous attention to detail.
Olivia Leppla from Greenwich Highschool, and the original friend who convinced me to start the series, tells me that “season 3 was superior to season 2” because “the plot seemed stronger and more developed.” She recalls the introduction of some new characters, and says that there was a good balance between the “humour included in them, while also having a good scare factor.”
Furthermore, the cast is especially talented, and it is clear they are friends off-set. This makes the friendship on screen more natural. The cast has appeared in many youtube video interviews, and even the Jimmy Fallon show. In the age of low budget, low quality television, the cast of stranger thing is uniquely talented, as reflected by their mass following on social media, let alone their net worth. According to the Cosmopolitan, Millie Bobby Brown, the actress who plays Eleven, is worth 4 million.
Overall, Stranger Things is a worthwhile show. Its setting, cast, and perfectionist scenery make it a show that arguably stands out. It has the perfect balance of anticipation, thriller, mystery, and comic relief. There are 25 episodes in total, each roughly 45 minutes long. So if you do the math, that’s about 1,125 minutes. That is 18.75 hours of my life I have devoted to this series! This gave me enough time to formulate opinions, attachments to the characters, and an actual emotional investment into its outcome (I’ll be honest, tears might have been shed in the season finale).
Note that this has been an abridged version of plot summary. For a thorough timeline of events in the show visit https://strangerthings.fandom.com/wiki/Stranger_Things/Timeline. Also, if you are looking for more show reviews, see “The Binge Watcher’s Guide to Bandersnatch” article (https://bhhsoracle.org/2019/02/01/the-binge-watchers-guide-to-bandersnatch/). And if you are still craving all things Stranger Things, I suggest you check out Netflix’s special called Beyond Stranger Things, which explains some interesting subtleties of the show through interviews with the cast.