By now, I have to believe at least three people have recommended Netflix original series “Stranger Things” to you. It has heroically satiated everyone’s nostalgia by harkening back to beloved ’80s sci-fi like “E.T.” and “The Goonies,” while also single-handedly reviving Winona Ryder’s once-glorious career. You’ll enjoy watching this stoned if you like horror, alien intrigue, government conspiracies (read our cover story for more on this topic), people trudging through toxic interdimensions wearing hazmat suits or atmospheric detective stories replete with weirdness.
“Stranger Things” owes a lot to David Lynch’s 1990 ABC cult murder mystery “Twin Peaks” (also on Netflix). But “ST” puts its heart and soul into a group of nerdy 12-year-old boys, in a lovely depiction of loyal kid friendship every bit as complex and enduring as an adult bond. When Will Byers, the smallest of the Dungeons and Dragons crew goes missing, the citizens of his small Indiana hometown set out to find him. Will’s mother (Ryder) is panicked, stringing hundreds of Christmas lights around her house in a frenzied attempt to contact her son (it’ll make sense if you watch, plus it’s a gorgeous set piece). Cool-guy police chief Hopper (David Harbour) is also on the case, gruff and concerned but eager to help. There’s an additional handful of angsty, horny teenage characters (don’t worry, they turn out less annoying than you’d think). The show seamlessly conjoins three generations, fleshing out believable connections and conflicts between them all.
I won’t spoil anything more, except to say there’s a wicked creature who terrorizes and surprises, a sinister government agency that is (of course) involved in Will’s disappearance and a badass little girl with psychic abilities. If you miss the golden days of Spielberg’s kid heroes running wild on bikes through dark woods and relishing childhoods not spent in front of computer screens, this is the 420 treat for you.