TotL – My 5 Favorite Things from Stranger Things 2
We had a vast assortment of popular culture to choose from this weekend, but my offering of choice was easily Netflix‘s latest season (wait, don’t call it that!) of the smash hit Stranger Things 2. The first season was an epic love letter to the 1980s, but it was also a fantastic horror/sci-fi television series in its own right. With callbacks to 80s nostalgia, a high degree of comic book tropes spread throughout, and an ambience that is just unmistakably cool, it’s no surprise that Stranger Things became one of my absolute favorite shows. Well, the sequel (that’s better) to that first series debuted over the weekend, I had a chance to marathon the entire thing in a single sitting, and after I woke red-eyed and weary from the entire experience, Stranger Things 2 was a joy to behold that lived up to the established awesome of the first outing. While I enjoyed the entire thing, there were some outstanding moments of Stranger Things 2 that I just have to get into. So, without further ado, the comics, the games, and Bob, in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: My 5 Favorite Things from Stranger Things 2.
The first season of Stranger Things focused almost mainly on the pen and paper role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. While season 2 certainly doesn’t do away with the game altogether, the focus of this second season moves that focus onto the next logical evolution of gaming, and it was a perfect move. The first episode opens with the boys making their way to the arcade, and it only gets better after that.
Dragon’s Lair takes a front seat early, and the knight taking on the dragon to fight for his love rings true in several ways, but it’s the way the game Dig Dug carries over into the real-life events happening below Hawkins that really drives home the use of the tropes. Plus, arcades are pure 1980s, rarely seen today, and add a sense of realism to the entire period piece aspect of the series.
5. Steve and Dustin
As with any show, relationships abound in Stranger Things. It could be easily argued that the relationships are the real reason to watch, and seeing characters grow in surprising ways is intriguing. My favorite of all of these relationships and odd growth of the characters is the surprising friendship of Steve and Dustin. Steve, the only-child looking for his place in this whole thing without Nancy by his side, and Dustin, the fatherless friend who is loyal to a fault. It’s a perfect match.
Seeing Steve guide Dustin through how to act around girls, the awkwardness of his first dance, and even how to get just the right wave to his hairdo was a really fun twist for both of these characters. Lucas and Max hitting it off was a bit unexpected, but Steve and Dustin hitting it off so well and in such a unique way was perfect.
Stranger Things has an epic soundtrack full of synth sounds from a decade long ago, but it also takes some of the coolest pop songs from the 1980s and sets them into a context that pushes the story along wonderfully. Here’s a list:
Devo “Whip It”
Oingo Boingo “Just Another Day”
The Romantics “Talking In Your Sleep”
Scorpions “Rock You Like A Hurricane”
Gary Paxton “Spooky Movies”
Prehistoric Wolves “Every Other Girl”
Ray Park Jr. “Ghostbusters”
Ted Nugent “Wango Tango”
Mötley Crüe “Shout At The Devil”
Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers “Islands In The Stream”
Bobby Picket “Monster Mash”
Duran Duran “Girls On Film”
Jim Croce “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”
The Psychedelic Furs “The Ghost In You”
The Clash “This Is Radio Clash”
Paul Engemann “Scarface (Push It To The Limit)”
Carol Lloyd “Try My Love”
Bobby Bare “Green, Green Grass of Home”
Billy Holiday “No More”
Queen “Hammer To Fall”
Artie Shaw “There’s Frost On The Moon”
Billie Holiday “You Better Go Now”
Roy Orbison “Blue Bayou”
Ratt “Round And Round”
Bon Jovi “Runaway”
The Runaways “Dead End Justice”
Icicle Works “Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)”
Metallica “The Four Horsemen”
The Clash “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”
Barbara Streisand “The Way We Were”
Donna Summers “I Do Believe (I Fell In Love)”
Bobby Helms “Jingle Bell Rock”
Olivia Newton John “Twist of Fate”
Pat Benetar “Love Is A Battlefield”
Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time”
The Police “Every Breath You Take”
3. The Hero’s Journey
One of the coolest parts of this entire Stranger Things 2 run is Eleven’s journey. She’s got her own side thing going for most of the season, and seeing her rebel, relive, reeducate herself, and finally move back to becoming the hero is everything that a comic book superhero journey should be.
She’s hidden away because she’s poison. Everyone she encounters is in danger just because she exists. But she’s a human being. She needs human interaction. But she’s also got superpowers, so who’s going to stop her from doing whatever she wants to do? What ensues is a journey of Eleven finding herself. She even takes a few steps down a darker path before truly finding herself again, and her powers culminate in a way reminiscent of Jean Grey of the X-Men. A lot of people are being critical of Eleven’s standalone episode because it was such a grand departure from the rest of the series, but the change to everything was the perfect way to tell Eleven’s unique and individual story.
2. Demodog Death Trap
One of the coolest things Stranger Things is able to do is to pay homage to 1980s classics to tell its story. Ghostbusters, ET, even Indiana Jones are just a few of the things Stranger Things tipped its hat to this season, but one stood out to me more than the other.
While much of Stranger Things borrows from movies, TV, even comics from decades ago, nothing drove home that feeling of nostalgia more for me than the nod to the sci-fi/horror classic Aliens during the Demodog Death Trap scene. It was a perfect way to build the suspense of that scene by taking the tension from that unforgettable scene from Aliens and stealing the hell out of it.
Easy peazy. By far my favorite thing from Stranger Things this year was Joyce’s new boyfriend Bob. Bob is just a nice guy, he’s a big nerd, he’s got a big heart, and he’s smart as a whip. Oh, and he works at Radio Shack. But the most endearing thing about Bob is the way he’s a reflection of us. He’s the Every Nerd.
Bob is kind of like all the nerds and geeks who get into a show like Stranger Things. We want to be there, helping everyone out, running head first into danger, and saving the day. And Bob did save the day, albeit to his own…well, let’s not go there. It’s still so fresh. But without a doubt Bob was something I was in no way expecting from this season, and he ended up being a breath of fresh air in a show that in no way needed it.
See a mistake? Disagree with the choices? Let us know what you thing!