Winona Ryder stars in Netflix's new sci-fi thriller

How often do you find a TV series you’re able to watch over and over again? It’s difficult for me to get this attached to a story and its characters, but the moment I finished Netflix’s 8-episode series, “Stranger Things,” I wanted to start it all over again. And for that, it has earned a top spot on my list of favorites.

The science fiction series takes place in the 1980s in a small Indiana town where there’s an investigation into the disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). Sound like your average “Criminal Minds” or “Law and Order” episode? Don’t be fooled. In the first episode we witness Will’s disappearance and trust me, what happens is unimaginable. Will’s mother, Joyce Byers, flawlessly played by the ’90s era grunge queen Winona Ryder, remains sleep-deprived as she frantically searches for her son alongside police Chief Officer Hopper (David Harbour). They uncover mysterious government experiments, paranormal events and horrifying secrets.

“Stranger Things” provides a nostalgic, supernatural, ’80s feel, giving audiences a familiar “X-Files” and “Super 8” flashback with some Stephen King raw thriller effects thrown in. The music of the opening sequence alone evokes a thrilling chill down your spine, similar to King’s stories, creating a premonition that perfectly sets the icy mood for the show. 

The show includes the theme of a high school romance with a love triangle between Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton). Jonathan struggles to deal with the mysterious disappearance of his brother but soon finds that his high school crush, Wheeler, is also connected to the investigation after her best friend, Barb, goes missing. While Hopper works without rest to uncover the investigation of these disappearances, both Wheeler and Jonathan decide to take on an investigation of their own. After the two go into the night to search for their loved ones, they come across something that could be from another world. 

Within each episode we watch events unfold from the vantage point of the mother, the chief of police, the love triangle and Will’s friends. The show manages to be even more captivating (think “E.T.” with amped—up horror) from the point of view of Will’s friends, 12 year olds who ride their bikes into the night only to find a young, soft-spoken, wide-eyed girl named El with a shaved head and a paranormal ability audiences won’t see coming. Along with El, Will’s group of friends follow the trail of the investigation and end up facing the unknown territory of the government’s research facility. Realizing that Will could potentially be in trouble, this group of kids finds answers on their own.

There are moments when you’ll want to turn away, but can’t. You’ll look behind you when you’re alone, and you’ll even check if your doors are locked at night. “Stranger Things” is the first show to have that effect on me in a long, long time. So sit back, try to relax and watch the investigation into the disappearance of Will Byers unfold in front of you.  

Joanna McNeilly is a junior writing, rhetoric and technical communication major. Contact Joanna at mcneilje@dukes.jmu.edu.