It's a cool 80's homage, but what else? At the end, I don't know how, but I thought Stranger Things was - maybe - two episodes too long. And the Demogorgon-wanna-be creature is not that much to be honest. In my opinion, the success of ST relies on being an easy show to binge-watch. But the cast - now we're talking about something golden. Bring back Winona more often, please!
My feelings about the show are more complex than the actual content. Winona Ryder is superb, and the scenes with the popping lights are transfixing. The Duffer Brothers are comfortable commenting on flimsy gender lines that were rather entrenched at the time, although there's never any profound takeaway from the entire series. It was popcorn fun to me, but nothing monumental.
This is technically a TV show, right? But since it's on Netflix, I guess it deserves evaluation on a par with regular cinematic offerings (and nowadays in the age of streaming and binge-watching the line is blurring, tbh). Films or TV shows set in the past (or the future) are usually about things other than that era. This show is about how we treat people who are "different" and about the misuse and abuse of power.
I think one of my bigger issues with it is that it doesn't really evoke more than the sum of its parts. It is sociologically interesting in that its collected influences illustrate a symptom of life for the generation of latchkey kids. Otherwise, it's just a reasonably fun, affectionate pastiche of 80s genre pulp, placing John Hughsey coming-of-age drama side by side with Spielberg and King.
This is a really good series with some awesome child actors, beautiful cinematography and a soundtrack I just want to bury myself in. Yes, it's cheesy, it has its flaws and the worst presentation of bullying I've ever seen, but the rest of it is so much fun that I can heartily recommend it.