I recently started watching the new season of Netflix’s Stranger Things. I’ve been reflecting while watching it about why everyone’s so obsessed with it. I think some of it might be due to the fact that you can watch the whole 8 episode season back-to-back, combined with the all the plot twists and cryptic endings. But, something else that I think makes it stand out is the setting.
It is set in a small town in Indiana in 1983, a time where science fiction novels still captivated kids. It’s interesting that the time period was made so intentionally because that was the prime of science fiction and now because of the show, there is a resurgence to the genre. I think this show is so popular because science fiction hasn’t been popular in so long that it feels new to the younger audience. The setting is also new because not many movies or shows are set in the past, but instead in the present or future. I actually read that they had the characters all watch the film “Stand By Me” in attempt to make their friendships as wholesome as the ones in the 80s classic. The film is not uncanny but the friendships do play a major part of the movie.
So where does this class’ themes come in? Stranger Things is uncanny but it is uncanny in a different way. There is a lot of suspense in the first season and fear of the unknown. I think bringing it back to the 80s theme makes it interesting for the viewers in a time where movies and tv shows all seem so similar. However, the 80s theme also makes it uncanny because it is unknown. Not only do we not known what is going on all the time, we are also watching a unfamiliar setting, which adds to the uncanny. There is also a decent amount of remediation, like what we saw in the Flat
. It fits the setting, but it also fits the uncanny theme.