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Stranger Things (season 1)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stranger Things
Season 1
Stranger Things season 1.jpg
Promotional poster
Starring
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes8
Release
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of episodes

The first season of the American science fiction horror drama television series Stranger Things premiered worldwide exclusively via Netflix's streaming service on July 15, 2016.[1] The series was created by The Duffer Brothers who are also executive producers along with Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen.

The first season stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, and Matthew Modine, with Noah Schnapp, Joe Keery, and Shannon Purser in recurring roles. The first season of Stranger Things received universal acclaim, particularly for its originality, characterization, visuals, humor, and acting (particularly that of Ryder, Harbour, Wolfhard, Brown, and Modine).

Premise

The first season begins in November 1983, when researchers at Hawkins National Laboratory open a rift to the "Upside Down", an alternate dimension. A monster from the Upside Down escapes and abducts a boy named Will Byers and teenage girl called Barbara. Will's mother, Joyce, and the town's police chief, Jim Hopper, search for Will. At the same time, a young psychokinetic girl called Eleven escapes from the laboratory and assists Will's friends, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, in their own efforts to find Will.[2]

Cast and characters

Main cast

Recurring

Episodes

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
In November 1983 in Hawkins, Indiana, a scientist is attacked by an unseen creature at a U.S. government laboratory. 12-year-old Will Byers encounters the creature and mysteriously vanishes while cycling home from a Dungeons & Dragons session with his friends Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson and Lucas Sinclair. Will's single mother Joyce reports his disappearance to police chief Jim Hopper, who starts a search and assures Joyce that almost all missing children are quickly found. The lab's director Dr. Martin Brenner investigates an organic substance oozing from the lab's basement, claiming that "the girl" cannot have gone far. A nervous young girl wearing a hospital gown wanders into a local diner. The owner, Benny, learns from a tattoo of "011" on her arm that her name is Eleven. Brenner, monitoring the phone lines, sends agents to the diner after Benny calls social services. The agents kill Benny, but Eleven manages to escape using telekinetic abilities. Joyce's phone short circuits after she receives a mysterious phone call which she believes is from Will. While searching for Will in the woods, Mike, Dustin and Lucas come across Eleven.
22"Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"The Duffer BrothersThe Duffer BrothersJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
The boys bring Eleven to Mike's house, where they disagree on what to do. Mike formulates a plan for Eleven to pretend to be a runaway and seek help from his mother Karen, but Eleven refuses, revealing that "bad men" are after her. Will's brother Jonathan visits his estranged father Lonnie in Indianapolis to search for Will, but Lonnie rebuffs him. Hopper's search party discovers a scrap of hospital gown near the lab. After recognizing Will in a photograph and demonstrating her telekinesis, Eleven convinces the boys to trust her as they believe that she could find Will. Using the Dungeons & Dragons board, Eleven indicates that Will is on the "Upside Down" side of the board and is being hunted by the "Demogorgon" (the creature). Mike's sister Nancy and her friend Barbara 'Barb' Holland go to a party with Nancy's boyfriend Steve Harrington. Searching for Will near Steve's house, Jonathan secretly photographs the party. Joyce receives another call from Will, hears music playing from his stereo, and sees the creature coming through the wall. Barb, left alone by the swimming pool, is attacked by the Demogorgon and vanishes.
33"Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly"Shawn LevyJessica MecklenburgJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Barb awakens in the Upside Down: a decaying, overgrown alternate dimension. Joyce believes Will is communicating through pulses in light bulbs. Brenner allows Hopper to view doctored security footage from the night Will vanished, leading Hopper to investigate Brenner, discovering his involvement with Project MKUltra, a CIA experiment into the brainwashing potential of psychoactive drugs, and that a woman named Terry Ives alleged years earlier that her daughter was taken by Brenner. Eleven recalls Brenner, whom she calls "Papa", punishing her for refusing to telekinetically hurt a cat. Steve destroys Jonathan's camera after discovering the photos from the party. Nancy later recovers a photo of Barb, having realized that she is missing. Returning to Steve's house to investigate, Nancy encounters the Demogorgon but manages to escape. Joyce paints an alphabetic board on her wall with Christmas lights, allowing Will to sign to her that he is "RIGHT HERE" and that she needs to "RUN". Believing that Eleven knows where Will is, the boys ask her to lead them to him. Eleven leads them to a quarry, just as Will's apparent body is recovered from the water by the search party.
44"Chapter Four: The Body"Shawn LevyJustin DobleJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Joyce refuses to believe that the body found at the quarry is Will's. Mike feels betrayed by Eleven until she proves to him that Will is still alive channelling his voice through Mike's walkie-talkie. The boys theorize that Eleven could use a ham radio at their school to communicate with Will. Nancy notices a figure behind Barb in Jonathan's photo, which Jonathan realizes matches his mother's description of the Demogorgon. Nancy tells the police about Barb's disappearance. She later fights with Steve, who only cares about not getting in trouble with his father. Hopper has suspicions regarding the authenticity of the body found in the quarry and confronts the state trooper who found it, beating the trooper until he admits he was ordered to lie. The boys sneak Eleven into their school to use the radio, while Joyce hears Will's voice in her living room wall. Tearing away the wallpaper, she sees him. Eleven uses the radio to channel Will talking to his mother. Hopper goes to the morgue and finds that the body is a dummy and, suspecting that Brenner is responsible, breaks into the lab.
55"Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat"The Duffer BrothersAlison TatlockJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Hopper searches the lab, finding the substance in the basement, before being knocked out by the lab's guards. The boys ask their science teacher Mr. Clarke if it would be possible to travel between alternate dimensions, to which he answers that there could be a theoretical 'gate' between dimensions. Hopper awakens at his house and finds a hidden microphone, leading him to realize that Joyce was right the whole time. Positing that a gate would disrupt the Earth's electromagnetic field, the boys follow their compasses. Eleven recalls memories of being placed in a sensory-deprivation tank to telepathically eavesdrop on a man speaking Russian; while listening, she came across the Demogorgon. Scared of encountering the Demogorgon again, Eleven redirects the compasses. Lucas misinterprets this as an act of treason, leading Mike and Lucas to fight and Eleven to telekinetically fling Lucas off Mike. While Dustin and Mike tend to the unconscious Lucas, Eleven runs off. Nancy and Jonathan formulate a plan to kill the Demogorgon. Searching in the woods, they encounter a wounded deer. Nancy follows it through a gate to the Upside Down, drawing its attention to her.
66"Chapter Six: The Monster"The Duffer BrothersJessie Nickson-LopezJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Jonathan pulls Nancy back through the gate. That night, Nancy is afraid to be alone and asks Jonathan to stay in her bedroom. Steve, attempting to reconcile with Nancy, sees them together through her bedroom window and assumes they are dating. Joyce and Hopper track down Terry Ives, who is catatonic and tended by her sister Becky, who explains that Terry was a Project MKUltra participant while unknowingly pregnant and believes her daughter Jane was kidnapped by Brenner at birth, due to Jane's supposed telekinetic and telepathic abilities. Nancy and Jonathan stockpile weapons to kill the Demogorgon, theorizing that it is attracted by blood. Steve gets into a fistfight with Jonathan after calling Nancy a slut. Alone in the woods, Eleven recalls being asked by Brenner to contact the Demogorgon and, in her terror, inadvertently opening the gate. Searching for Eleven, Mike and Dustin are ambushed by bullies, but are rescued by Eleven, who breaks one bully's arm. Eleven tearfully admits to Mike that she is responsible for allowing the Demogorgon to enter this dimension. Lucas sees agents, who have tracked down Eleven, preparing to ambush Mike's house.
77"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"The Duffer BrothersJustin DobleJuly 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Lucas warns Mike that agents are searching for Eleven. Mike, Dustin and Eleven flee the house. Eleven telekinetically flips one of the agents' vans that blocks their path, and the kids escape. Lucas reconciles with Mike and Eleven and the kids hide from the agents. Nancy and Jonathan reveal their knowledge of the Demogorgon to Joyce and Hopper. The group contacts the kids, and everyone meets at the Byers house. Joyce and Hopper realize that Eleven is Jane Ives. The group asks Eleven to telepathically search for Will and Barb, but her earlier feats have left her weakened. To amplify Eleven's powers, they break into the middle school and build a makeshift sensory-deprivation tank. Using her telepathy, Eleven finds Barb dead and Will alive, hiding in the Upside Down version of his backyard fort. Realizing that the gate is in the basement of the lab, Hopper and Joyce break into the lab but are apprehended by security guards. Nancy and Jonathan head back to the Byers house, planning to attract and kill the Demogorgon. In the Upside Down, the Demogorgon breaks into Will's fort.
88"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"The Duffer BrothersStory by : Paul Dichter
Teleplay by : The Duffer Brothers
July 15, 2016 (2016-07-15)
Hopper, haunted by the death of his daughter Sara years earlier, gives up Eleven's location to Brenner, who in exchange allows Hopper and Joyce to enter the Upside Down to rescue Will. Back at the Byers house, Nancy and Jonathan cut their hands to attract the Demogorgon. Steve arrives just as the Demogorgon appears, intending to apologize to Jonathan about their fight. Steve, Nancy and Jonathan fight the Demogorgon and light it on fire, forcing it to retreat to the Upside Down. Meanwhile, Eleven and the boys are hiding in the middle school when Brenner and his agents arrive to kidnap Eleven; she kills most of them before collapsing from exhaustion. The Demogorgon appears and attacks Brenner, seemingly killing him. Hopper and Joyce find Will in the Upside Down, unconscious with a tendril down his throat, and revive him using CPR. The Demogorgon finds the kids and Eleven disintegrates it, but in doing so disappears. Will is hospitalized. One month later, Nancy is back together with Steve and both are friends with Jonathan. Will coughs up a slug-like creature and has a vision of the Upside Down but hides this from his family.

Production

Development

Ross (left) and Matt Duffer, the creators of the series

Stranger Things was created by Matt and Ross Duffer, known professionally as The Duffer Brothers.[13] The two had completed writing and producing their 2015 film Hidden, which they had tried to emulate the style of M. Night Shyamalan, however, due to changes at Warner Bros., its distributor, the film did not see a wide release and the Duffers were unsure of their future.[14] To their surprise, television producer Donald De Line approached them, impressed with Hidden's script, and offered them the opportunity to work on episodes of Wayward Pines alongside Shyamalan. The brothers were mentored by Shyamalan during the episode's production, so that when they finished, they felt they were ready to produce their own television series.[15]

The Duffer Brothers prepared a script that would essentially be similar to the series' actual pilot episode, along with a 20-page pitch book to help shop the series around for a network.[16] They pitched the story to a number of cable networks, all of which rejected the script on the basis that they felt a plot centered around children as leading characters would not work, asking them to make it a children's show or to drop the children and focus on Hopper's investigation in the paranormal.[15] In early 2015, Dan Cohen, the VP of 21 Laps Entertainment, brought the script to his colleague Shawn Levy. They subsequently invited The Duffer Brothers to their office and purchased the rights for the series, giving full authorship of it to the brothers. After reading the pilot, the streaming service Netflix purchased the whole season for an undisclosed amount;[17] the show was subsequently announced for a planned 2016 release by Netflix in early April 2015.[18] The Duffer Brothers stated that at the time they had pitched to Netflix, the service had already been recognized for its original programming, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, with well-recognized producers behind them, and were ready to start giving upcoming producers like them a chance.[16] The brothers started to write out the series and brought Levy and Cohen in as executive producers to start casting and filming.[19]

The series was originally known as Montauk, as the setting of the script was in Montauk, New York and nearby Long Beach locations.[18][20] The brothers had chosen Montauk as it had further Spielberg ties with the film Jaws, where Montauk was used for the fictional setting of Amity Island.[21] After deciding to change the narrative of the series to take place in the fictional town of Hawkins instead, the brothers felt they could now do things to the town, such as placing it under quarantine, that they really could not envision with a real location.[21] With the change in location, they had to come up with a new title for the series under direction from Netflix's Ted Sarandos so that they could start marketing it to the public. The brothers started by using a copy of Stephen King's Firestarter novel to consider the title's font and appearance, and came up with a long list of potential alternatives. Stranger Things came about as it sounded similar to another King novel, Needful Things, though Matt noted they still had a "lot of heated arguments" over this final title.[22]

Writing

The idea of Stranger Things started with how the brothers felt they could take the concept of the 2013 film Prisoners, detailing the moral struggles a father goes through when his daughter is kidnapped, and expand it out over eight or so hours in a serialized television approach. As they focused on the missing child aspect of the story, they wanted to introduce the idea of "childlike sensibilities" they could offer, and toyed around with the idea of a monster that could consume humans. The brothers thought the combination of these things "was the best thing ever". To introduce this monster into the narrative, they considered "bizarre experiments we had read about taking place in the Cold War" such as Project MKUltra, which gave a way to ground the monster's existence in science rather than something spiritual. This also helped them to decide on using 1983 as the time period, as it was a year before the film Red Dawn came out, which focused on Cold War paranoia.[15] Subsequently, they were able to use all their own personal inspirations from the 1980s, the decade they were born, as elements of the series,[15][23] crafting it in the realm of science fiction and horror.[24] The Duffer Brothers have cited as influence for the show (among others): Stephen King novels; films produced by Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas and Guillermo del Toro; films such as Alien and Stand by Me; Japanese anime such as Akira and Elfen Lied; and video games such as Silent Hill and The Last of Us.[22][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

With Netflix as the platform, The Duffer Brothers were not limited to a typical 22-episode format, opting for the eight-episode approach. They had been concerned that a 22-episode season on broadcast television would be difficult to "tell a cinematic story" with that many episodes. Eight episodes allowed them to give time to characterization in addition to narrative development; if they had less time available, they would have had to remain committed to telling a horror film as soon as the monster was introduced and abandon the characterization.[16] Within the eight episodes, the brothers aimed to make the first season "feel like a big movie" with all the major plot lines completed so that "the audience feels satisfied", but left enough unresolved to indicate "there's a bigger mythology, and there's a lot of dangling threads at the end", something that could be explored in further seasons if Netflix opted to create more.[33]

Regarding writing for the children characters of the series, The Duffer Brothers considered themselves as outcasts from other students while in high school and thus found it easy to write for Mike and his friends, and particularly for Barb.[22] Joyce was fashioned after Richard Dreyfuss's character Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as she appears "absolutely bonkers" to everyone else as she tries to find Will.[34] Other characters, such as Billy in the second season, have more villainous attributes that are not necessarily obvious from the onset; Matt explained that they took further inspiration from Stephen King for these characters, as King "always has really great human villains" that may be more malicious than the supernatural evil.[35]

Casting

The Duffers cast David Harbour as Sheriff Hopper believing this was his opportunity to play a lead character in a work.
The Duffers cast David Harbour as Sheriff Hopper believing this was his opportunity to play a lead character in a work.

In June 2015, it was announced that Winona Ryder and David Harbour had joined the series as Joyce and as the unnamed chief of police, respectively.[3] The brothers' casting director Carmen Cuba had suggested Ryder for the role of Joyce, which the two were immediately drawn to because of her predominance in 1980s films.[15] Levy believed Ryder could "wretch up the emotional urgency and yet find layers and nuance and different sides of [Joyce]". Ryder praised that the show's multiple storylines required her to act for Joyce as "she's out of her mind, but she's actually kind of onto something", and that the producers had faith she could pull off the difficult role.[36] The Duffer Brothers had been interested in Harbour before, who until Stranger Things primarily had smaller roles as villainous characters, and they felt that he had been "waiting too long for this opportunity" to play a lead, while Harbour himself was thrilled by the script and the chance to play "a broken, flawed, anti-hero character".[22][37]

Additional casting followed two months later with Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Millie Bobby Brown in an undisclosed role, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas, Natalia Dyer as Nancy, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan.[4] In September 2015, Cara Buono joined the cast as Karen,[5] followed by Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner a month later.[6] Additional cast who recur for the first season include Noah Schnapp as Will,[4][8] Shannon Purser as Barbara "Barb" Holland,[9] Joe Keery as Steve Harrington,[7][8] and Ross Partridge as Lonnie,[10] among others.

Actors auditioning for the children roles read lines from Stand By Me.[15] The Duffer Brothers estimated they went through about a thousand different child actors for the roles. They noted that Wolfhard was already "a movie buff" of the films from the 1980s period and easily filled the role, while they found Matarazzo's audition to be much more authentic than most of the other audition tapes, and selected him after a single viewing of his audition tape.[16] As casting was started immediately after Netflix greenlit the show, and prior to the scripts being fully completed, this allowed some of the actor's takes on the roles to reflect into the script. The casting of the young actors for Will and his friends had been done just after the first script was completed, and subsequent scripts incorporated aspects from these actors.[33] The brothers said Modine provided significant input on the character of Dr. Brenner, whom they had not really fleshed out before as they considered him the hardest character to write for given his limited appearances within the narrative.[34]

Filming

The brothers had desired to film the series around the Long Island area to match the initial Montauk concept. However, with filming scheduled to take place in November 2015, it was difficult to shoot in Long Island in the cold weather, and the production started scouting locations in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area. The brothers, who grew up in North Carolina, found many places that reminded them of their own childhoods in that area, and felt the area would work well with the narrative shift to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.[21]

The filming of the first season began on September 25, 2015 and was extensively done in Atlanta, Georgia, with The Duffer Brothers and Levy handling the direction of individual episodes.[38] Jackson served as the basis of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.[39][40] Other shooting locations included the Georgia Mental Health Institute as the Hawkins National Laboratory site, Bellwood Quarry, Patrick Henry High School in Stockbridge, Georgia, for the middle and high school scenes,[41] Emory University's Continuing Education Department, the former city hall in Douglasville, Georgia, Georgia International Horse Park, the probate court in Butts County, Georgia, Old East Point Library and East Point First Baptist Church in East Point, Georgia, Fayetteville, Georgia, Stone Mountain Park, Palmetto, Georgia, and Winston, Georgia.[42] Set work was done at Screen Gem Studios in Atlanta.[42] The series was filmed with a Red Dragon digital camera.[34] Filming for the first season concluded in early 2016.[39]

While filming, the brothers tried to capture shots that could be seen as homages to many of the 1980s references they recalled. Their goal was not necessarily to fill the work with these references, but instead make the series seem to the viewer as a 1980s film.[22] They spent little time reviewing those works and instead went by memory. Matt further recognized that some of their filming homages were not purposely done but were found to be very comparable, as highlighted by a fan-made video comparing the show to several 1980s works side by side.[15][43] Matt commented on the video that "Some were deliberate and some were subconscious."[15] The brothers recognized that many of the iconic scenes from these 1980s films, such as with Poltergeist, was about "taking a very ordinary object that people deal with every day, their television set, and imbuing it with something otherworldly", leading to the idea of using the Christmas light strings for Will to communicate with Joyce.[22]

The brothers attributed much of the 1980s feel to set and costume designers and the soundtrack composers that helped to recreate the era for them.[15] Lynda Reiss, the head of props, had about a $220,000 budget, similar to most films, to acquire artifacts of the 1980s, using eBay and searching through flea markets and estate sales around the Atlanta area. The bulk of the props were original items from the 1980s with only a few pieces, such as the Dungeons & Dragons books made as replicas.[44]

Visual effects

To create the aged effect for the series, a film grain was added over the footage, which was captured by scanning in film stock from the 1980s.[34] The Duffers wanted to scare the audience, but not to necessarily make the show violent or gory, following in line with how the 1980s Amblin Entertainment films drove the creation of the PG-13 movie rating. It was "much more about mood and atmosphere and suspense and dread than they are about gore", though they were not afraid to push into more scary elements, particularly towards the end of the first season.[34] The brothers had wanted to avoid any computer-generated effects for the monster and other parts of the series and stay with practical effects. However, the six-month filming time left them little time to plan out and test practical effects rigs for some of the shots. They went with a middle ground of using constructed props including one for the monster whenever they could, but for other shots, such as when the monster bursts through a wall, they opted to use digital effects. Post-production on the first season was completed the week before it was released to Netflix.[15]

The title sequence uses closeups of the letters in the Stranger Things title with a red tint against a black background as they slide into place within the title. The sequence was created by the studio Imaginary Forces, formerly part of R/GA, led by creative director Michelle Doughtey.[45] Levy introduced the studio to The Duffer Brothers, who explained their vision of the 1980s-inspired show, which helped the studio to fix the concept the producers wanted. Later, but prior to filming, the producers sent Imaginary Forces the pilot script, the synth-heavy background music for the titles, as well as the various book covers from King and other authors that they had used to establish the title and imagery, and were looking for a similar approach for the show's titles, primarily using a typographical sequence. They took inspiration from several title sequences of works from the 1980s that were previously designed by Richard Greenberg under R/GA, such as Altered States and The Dead Zone. They also got input from Dan Perri, who worked on the title credits of several 1980s films. Various iterations included having letters vanish, to reflect the "missing" theme of the show, and having letters cast shadows on others, alluding to the mysteries, before settling into the sliding letters. The studio began working on the title sequence before filming, and took about a month off during the filming process to let the producers get immersed in the show and come back with more input. Initially they had been working with various fonts for the title and used close-ups of the best features of these fonts, but near the end the producers wanted to work with ITC Benguiat, requiring them to rework those shots. The final sequence is fully computer generated, but they took inspiration from testing some practical effects, such as using Kodalith masks as would have been done in the 1980s, to develop the appropriate filters for the rendering software. The individual episode title cards used a "fly through" approach, similar to the film Bullitt, which the producers had suggested to the studio.[46]

Music

The Stranger Things original soundtrack was composed by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of the electronic band Survive.[47] It makes extensive use of synthesizers in homage to 1980s artists and film composers including Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Goblin, John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and Fabio Frizzi.[48]

According to Stein and Dixon, The Duffer Brothers had been fans of Survive's music, and used their song "Dirge" for the mock trailer that was used to sell the show to Netflix.[47][49] Once the show was green-lit, the Duffers contacted Survive around July 2015 to ask if they were still doing music; the two provided the production team with dozens of songs from their band's past to gain their interest, helping to land them the role.[47] Once aboard, the two worked with producers to select some of their older music to rework for the show, while developing new music, principally with character motifs.[49] The two had been hired before the casting process, so their motif demos were used and played over the actors' audition tapes, aiding in the casting selection.[49][50] The show's theme is based on an unused work Stein composed much earlier that ended up in the library of work they shared with the production staff, who thought that with some reworking would be good for the opening credits.[47]

The first season's original soundtrack, consisting of 75 songs from Dixon and Stein split across two volumes, was released by Lakeshore Records. Digital release and streaming options were released on August 10 and 19, 2016 for the two volumes, respectively, while retail versions were available on September 16 and 23, 2016.[51][52]

In addition to original music, Stranger Things features period music from artists including The Clash, Toto, New Order, The Bangles, Foreigner, Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel and Corey Hart, as well as excerpts from Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter and Vangelis.[52][53] In particular, The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" was specifically picked to play at pivotal moments of the story, such as when Will is trying to communicate with Joyce from the Upside Down.[52] Music supervisor Nora Felder felt the song "furthered the story" and called it an additional, unseen, main character of the season.[54]

Release

The first season consisted of forty minute long episodes which were released worldwide on Netflix on July 15, 2016,[55] in Ultra HD 4K and HDR.[56]

Home media

The first season of Stranger Things was released on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack exclusively to Target retailers on October 17, 2017, and the same for the 4K/Blu-ray combo pack on November 15, 2017, both of which includes vintage CBS-FOX VHS-inspired packaging.[57][58]

Stranger Things
Set details Special features
  • Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language/Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • 2:1 aspect ratio
  • 4-disc set, 8 episodes
  • Comes with a collectible poster not available for purchase separately from the set.
  • Retro packaging designed to look like a vintage CBS-FOX VHS cassette tape.
DVD release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
October 17, 2017 (Blu-ray/DVD)
November 15, 2017 (4K/Blu-ray)
TBA TBA

Reception

Audience viewership

As Netflix does not reveal subscriber viewership numbers for any of their original series, Symphony Technology Group compiled data for the season based on people using software on their phones that measures television viewing by detecting a program's sound. According to Symphony, within the first 35 days of release, Stranger Things averaged ratings around 14.07 million adults between the ages 18–49 in the United States. This made it the third most-watched season of Netflix original content in the U.S. at the time behind the first season of Fuller House and fourth season of Orange Is the New Black.[59] In a September 2016 analysis, Netflix found that Stranger Things "hooked" viewers by the second episode of the first season, indicating that the second episode was "the first installment that led at least 70 percent of viewers who watched that episode to complete the entire first season of a show."[60]

In August 2017, the marketing analytics firm Jumpshot determined the season was the seventh-most viewed Netflix season in the first 30 days after it premiered, garnering slightly more than 20% of the viewers that the second season of Daredevil received, which was the most viewed season according to Jumpstart. Jumpshot, which "analyzes click-stream data from an online panel of more than 100 million consumers", looked at the viewing behavior and activity of the company's U.S. members, factoring in the relative number of U.S. Netflix viewers who watched at least one episode of the season.[61]

Critical response

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the first season an approval rating of 97% based on 87 reviews and a weighted average score of 8.1/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Exciting, heartbreaking, and sometimes scary, Stranger Things acts as an addictive homage to Spielberg films and vintage 1980s television."[62] Review aggregator Metacritic gave the first season a normalized score of 76 out of 100 based on 34 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[63]

IGN gave the score of 8 out of 10 and called the series "Great" saying, "Stranger Things is an easy recommendation, offering viewers an atmospheric and endearing series that is a nostalgic throwback without feeling like a simple copy."[64] In a review of San Francisco Chronicle Dave Wiegand wrote: "Stranger Things reminds us of a time marked by a kind of no-strings escapism. And as it does so, we find ourselves yearning for it because the Duffers have made it so irresistibly appealing. There may be other equally great shows to watch this summer, but I guarantee you won't have more fun watching any of them than you will watching Stranger Things."[65] Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club also reviewed it positively saying, "Balancing style and substance is always challenging for a series like Stranger Things, but the show is perfectly calibrated. It feels like watching a show produced during the era in which it's set, but with the craft of today's prestige television."[66] Reviewing for HitFix, Alan Sepinwall said, "Over the course of the eight hours, the story and characters take on enough life of their own so that the references don't feel self-indulgent, and so that the series can be appreciated even if you don't know the plot of E.T. or the title font of Stephen King's early novels (a huge influence on the show's own opening credits) by heart."[67]

Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker also applauded the series and wrote, "This is astoundingly efficient storytelling, eight hours that pass in a blink, with even minor characters getting sharp dialogue, dark humor, or moments of pathos."[68] Television critic Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times said, "For the most part, and in absolute defiance of the odds, Stranger Things honors its source material in the best way possible: By telling a sweet 'n' scary story in which monsters are real but so are the transformative powers of love and fealty."[69] The Wall Street Journal's Brian Kelly said, "Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer, brothers and the show's creators, have done their homework when it comes to '80s cinema. Whether you're a fan of John Carpenter's The Thing or The Goonies is more your speed, there's plenty to like in Stranger Things."[70] Angus McFadzean of Columbia University Press compared Stranger Things to The Goonies, Stand By Me, Russkies, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.[71]

Commentary

Shannon Purser's performance as Barb received a great deal of attention from fans, and led to her being nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
Shannon Purser's performance as Barb received a great deal of attention from fans, and led to her being nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

Shortly after its release, Stranger Things gained a dedicated fanbase. One area of focus from these fans was the character of Barb, the nerdy friend and classmate of Nancy who is taken and killed by the monster early in the season.[72] According to actress Shannon Purser, Barb "wasn't supposed to be a big deal", and The Duffer Brothers had not gone into great detail about the character since the focus was on finding Will. However, many fans sympathized with the character, with Laura Bradley of Vanity Fair suggesting that these people found that Barb would be a similar misfit in society, and "looks more like someone you might actually meet in real life" compared to the other characters, particularly Nancy, in the series. A hashtag "#ImWithBarb" grew in popularity after the series' release, and several fan sites and forums were created to support her.[73] While Purser will not return for the second season, The Duffer Brothers used the real-life "Justice for Barb" movement as inspiration for narrative at the start of the second season, with Nancy addressing the fact "that no one ever cares about" Barb.[74] Purser and several media outlets took her nomination as Barb for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards as achieving "justice for Barb", highlighting how well her character was received.[75][76][77]

Another impact of the series has been an increase demand for Eggo waffles, as they are shown to be Eleven's favorite food in several episodes and are seen as a representation of the show.[78] The Kellogg Company, which manufactures Eggo, had not been part of the production prior to the first season's release, but recognized the market impact of the series. It provided a vintage 1980s Eggo television advertisement for Netflix to use in its Super Bowl LI commercial, and is looking to become more involved with cross-promotion.[79]

United States Representative David Cicilline compared the state of the nation during the presidency of Donald Trump to that of Stranger Things during a speech given in Congress on February 16, 2017, using a sign "Trump Things" in the same format as the title card of the show and saying "Like the main characters in Stranger Things, we are now stuck in the Upside Down".[80]

As part of its release on Netflix on April 14, 2017, the cast of the rebooted version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed on the first part of "Chapter 1" of Stranger Things.[81]

Accolades

Association Category Nominee(s) / work Result Ref.
ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited One Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television Dean Zimmerman
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated [82]
Kevin D. Ross
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Nominated
American Film Institute Top 10 TV Programs of the Year Stranger Things Won [83]
Art Directors Guild One-Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Television Series Chris Trujillo
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers", "Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly" and "Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated [84]
Bram Stoker Awards Superior Achievement in a Screenplay The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated [85]
The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best International Program Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen Nominated [86]
Cinema Audio Society Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour Chris Durfy, Joe Barnett, Adam Jenkins, Judah Getz and John Guentner
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Nominated [87]
Costume Designers Guild Outstanding Period Television Series Kimberly Adams, Malgosia Turzanska Nominated [88]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated [89]
Most Bingeworthy Show Stranger Things Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a Drama Series Duffer Brothers
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated [90]
Dragon Awards Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series Stranger Things Won [91]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated [92]
[93][94]
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series David Harbour as Jim Hopper
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven / Jane Ives
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Shannon Purser as Barb Holland
"Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly"
Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period Program (One Hour or More) Chris Trujillo, William Davis, Jess Royal
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Nominated
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series Carmen Cuba, Tara Feldstein, Chase Paris Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Tim Ives
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Dean Zimmerman
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
Won
Kevin D. Ross
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series Sarah Hindsgaul, Evelyn Roach
"Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"
Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Myke Michaels, Teresa Vest
"Chapter Six: The Monster"
Nominated
Outstanding Music Supervision Nora Felder
"Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"
Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series Bradley North, Craig Henighan, Jordan Wilby, Jonathan Golodner, Tiffany S. Griffth, Sam Munoz, David Klotz, Noel Vought, Ginger Geary
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) Joe Barnett, Adam Jenkins, Chris Durfy, Bill Higley
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Michelle Dougherty, Peter Frankfurt, Arisu Kashiwagi, Eric Demeusy Won
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Michael Stein, Kyle Dixon Won
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within a Scripted Program Netflix, CBS Digital
Stranger Things VR Experience
Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best TV Series Stranger Things Won [95]
Best TV Actress Millie Bobby Brown Won
Best TV Supporting Actor David Harbour Nominated
Best TV Supporting Actress Winona Ryder Won
Gold Derby TV Awards Drama Series Stranger Things Won [96]
Drama Supporting Actress Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
Drama Supporting Actress Winona Ryder Nominated
Drama Supporting Actor David Harbour Nominated
Drama Episode Justin Doble, The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter Seven: The Bathtub"
Nominated
Drama Episode Paul Ditcher, The Duffer Brothers
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated
Ensemble of the Year Cast of Stranger Things Nominated
Breakthrough Performer of the Year Millie Bobby Brown Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama Stranger Things Nominated [97]
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Winona Ryder Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing: TV Short Form – Music David Klotz
"Chapter Three: Holly Jolly"
Won [98]
Best Sound Editing: TV Short Form - FX/Foley Jacob McNaughton
"Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"
Nominated [99]
Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Stranger Things Volume 1 Nominated [100]
Stranger Things Volume 2 Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Main Title – TV Show/Digital Streaming Series Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein Nominated [101]
[102]
Best Original Score – TV Show/Miniseries Nominated
Outstanding Music Supervision – Television Nora Felder Won
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form The Duffer Brothers Nominated [103]
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Period Television Tony Holley Nominated [104]
Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Best Period and/or Character Makeup – Television Amy L. Forsythe, Samantha Smith Nominated [105]
Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling – Television Sarah Hindsgaul, Evelyn Roach Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards TV Show of the Year Won [106]
Best Actor in a TV Show Millie Bobby Brown Won
Best Villain The Demogorgon Nominated
Best Hero Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
National Television Awards Best Period Drama Stranger Things Nominated [107]
People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Show Stranger Things Nominated [108]
Favorite Premium Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series Stranger Things Nominated
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
Peabody Awards Best Entertainment Program Stranger Things Nominated [109]
Producers Guild of America Episodic Television, Drama Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, Iain Paterson Won [110]
Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Genre Stranger Things Nominated [111]
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Winona Ryder Nominated
Saturn Awards Best New Media Television Series Stranger Things Won [112]
Best Actress on a Television Series Winona Ryder Nominated
Best Younger Actor on a Television Series Millie Bobby Brown Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Millie Bobby Brown Nominated [113]
Winona Ryder Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Main cast Won
Society of Camera Operators Camera Operator of the Year – Television Bob Gorelick Nominated [114]
Television Critics Association Program of the Year Stranger Things Nominated [115][116]
Outstanding Achievement in Drama Nominated
Outstanding New Program Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Show Nominated [117]
Choice Breakout TV Show Nominated [118]
Choice Breakout TV Star Finn Wolfhard Nominated
Choice Breakout TV Star Millie Bobby Brown Nominated
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Marc Kolbe, Aaron Sims, Olcun Tan Nominated [119]
Writers Guild of America Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated [120]
New Series Stranger Things Nominated

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