The first season of the hit Netflix series Strange things was released on July 15, 2016. As one of the streaming giant’s flagship series, the nostalgic sci-fi horror show has drawn record-breaking viewership for the platform for the past six years and continues to break records today. The fourth season of the popular series is one of the few shows to surpass 1 billion hours of viewing in its initial 28-day release. The final episodes of season 4, released on July 1, 2022, were watched for a whopping 1.15 billion hours in 28 days, so Strange things the only English-language series to cross the billion threshold (according to IndieWire), second only to Korean-language drama squid games sitting at 1.65 billion. The series has been renewed for its fifth and final season, which is scheduled to premiere in 2024.
So why do fans connect with the series so much? Aside from the phenomenal writing, character development, and acting, a big reason the show is such a runaway success is that it’s infused with ’80s nostalgia. Whether it’s featuring notable ’80s actors like Winona Ryder, Sean Astin and Paul Reiser, or by paying homage to the movies, music, gadgets and books of the time, Strange things It’s 80’s nostalgia done right. However, he begs the question: why are Netflix series set in this decade?
Cold War Paranoia
Set in 1983, Strange things falls right in the middle of the last phase of the Cold War, which was between 1979 and 1985. This explains why many of the series’ plots revolve around Cold War paranoia. That said, it would be hard to imagine the series without the backbone of US-Russia tension that permeates many of the show’s storylines. Even Millie Bobby Brown’s character Eleven is first introduced to the public as the victim of clandestine MK Ultra experiments and is ultimately used as a Russian spy, as established in her flashback sequences in season 1 of the Serie.
Season 3 of Strange things it also leans heavily on 1980s Cold War paranoia, with a group of Russian terrorists beneath the Starcourt Mall attempting to reopen the gate to The Upside Down, presumably to exploit its power and mysteries as a weapon. Joyce, Hopper, and Murray also kidnap Russian scientist Alexei to get information from them about the Soviets’ ultimate plan. Meanwhile, Robin, Steve, and Dustin are trying to crack secret Russian codes while working upstairs at Scoops Ahoy. This story continues in Season 4 after Hopper is presumed dead, and is imprisoned in a Soviet Gulag located in Kamchatka, Russia.
Parental supervision (or lack thereof)
The most obvious reason the series had to be set in the 1980s is that there was far less access to mainstream information during that decade than there is today. The series was set before the invention of mobile phones, before the Internet, and during a time that was generally considered safer. This gave children of the 1980s much more freedom from their parents than children do today. In the first season of Strange thingsWe don’t even know any of the kids’ parents other than the Wheelers. At least they always have a reliable babysitter in series favorite Steve Harrington.
Yes Strange things was set in modern times, it would be far less credible to have a cast led primarily by independent children, as helicopter parenthood is much more prominent today with smartphone apps available to track a child’s exact location on demand. Also, the series would be a lot less interesting if there was always an easy way to spread information via cell phones, since the plot wouldn’t advance as much if everyone could easily be warned of danger or make a quick call to get out of trouble. . Finally, the fantastic elements of the show are much more believable in a world that is much less technologically advanced.
The weight of nostalgia
80s nostalgia is an important ingredient in Strange things‘ tremendous success as it helps the show appeal to a much wider audience. The older generations enjoy reliving their youth, while the younger generation is getting to know some things for the first time. Take Kate Bush, for example, when her song “Running Up That Hill” was featured on Season 4 Episode 4 “Dear Billy” she experienced a massive resurgence in popularity, in which Bush is estimated to have earned approximately $2 million from his new popularity. (according to UCR). Matt Duffer recently opened up about the Kate Bush phenomenon in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, stating, “I’d be lying if I said I knew she was going to resonate the way she did.”
Whether you watch and reminisce about how you dressed up as Ghostbusters for Halloween, revel in a vintage Lite Brite, or just enjoy some classical music, part of the reason you watch Strange things It’s that feeling of nostalgia. The ’80s are experiencing a resurgence of their own due in no small part to shows like paper girls Y Strange things established in that period. Capitalizing on retro marketing, designers are launching ’80s-inspired clothing lines, and even hairstyles from the era are making a comeback—even questionable ones like mullets and perms. Additionally, The Grove in Los Angeles welcomes a Strange things pop up shop. All this proves one thing: nostalgia sells.