Stranger Things

My shrink saw it.

We don’t have that kind of relationship, one wherein he shares his personal story. It’s all about me, all the time, which I find a bit difficult, I tend to reflect the sun upon others. Ask somebody a question, show interest, and they’ll go on forever, they’ll tell you their deepest, darkest secrets.

But they won’t reciprocate. That’s the dirty little secret of people, they’re self-centered, narcissistic, if someone asks you about you they’re a keeper. And if you want to get ahead in this life, win friends and influence people, show interest, everybody wants to be known, they’re just waiting for someone to ask, tell somebody your story and you bond forever, never forget that.

But my shrink shocked me today, when I mentioned the Netflix show, a big smile spread across his face, he got excited, and that’s when I asked him, had he seen it?

He had.

I wasn’t going to. The hype slid off of me. Sure, it featured Winona Ryder, but all the reviewers said it was better than adequate but not top-notch.

But the populace felt otherwise.

Professional reviewers are toast. We depend upon the wisdom of the crowd. And oftentimes their interests don’t align. And TV shows are now akin to books, they’re hiding in plain sight until the word of mouth becomes deafening and we all tune in. This is not appointment television, this is land mines, waiting for you to step on them, to be blown away, to tell everybody about your experience.

A UTA agent told me it was one of the two best shows on television. The other being “Atlanta.” Are you feeling the buzz on that FX show? Starring the ubiquitous Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino? That’s one the critics have all aligned on, yet it hasn’t quite penetrated the public consciousness. That’s the world we live in, you can employ scorched earth publicity and either gain traction or not, in most cases not, like Gaga, or you can put it out there to little impact and wait for the public to make noise. And people love to embrace art and spread the word, it makes them feel good.

And I read that Stephenie Meyer couldn’t wait for the second season of “Stranger Things,” and I never read the “Twilight” books but I know she’s a fan, kind of like Elton, he not only makes the music, he LISTENS TO IT! So many artists are ME, ME, ME all the time and that focus has us either accepting or neglecting them, there’s no in between, but when they’re a fan like us…

So now I was ready.

Now “Stranger Things” was released on Netflix on July 15th. Let that be a lesson to you, don’t judge your results upon the first week. If you’ve made something great give it some time. Then again, there’s a tsunami of product and it might get buried, we live in challenging times.

So I’m late to the party, but it’s new to me. If you’re putting people down for being late adopters you’re living by twentieth century precepts. Today there’s so much stuff no one can keep up. Be thrilled someone ever comes on board.

And I love Netflix.

But it’s not what it once was. It no longer has an exhaustive catalog of flicks.

What I hate about movies is you can read about ’em but you can’t see ’em. I’m paying $150 to Spectrum, and I fire up my cable maybe an hour and a half a week. There’s the Netflix subscription and the Amazon Prime and I’m already paying for HBO… It’s like being pecked to death by ducks. Name a number for everything, please. We’ve got that in music, when are we going to get that in movies?

I was listening to Brett Easton Ellis testify about the Duplass Brothers’ “Blue Jay” in his podcast. It’s coming to Netflix, but I couldn’t wait. Because if you wait, you never see it, there’s always something new. So I paid. Five bucks. And felt ripped off. Because even though I’m a fan of Mark and Jay this movie was far from great, and I only have time for great. And I didn’t think “Stranger Things” was great at first, but I’m changing my mind.

Funny thing about some of these shows, it takes a while for you to get hooked. With “Stranger Things” I’d say it’s four episodes, by time you hit five you want to slow down the clock, you’re afraid it’s going to be over.

So, it’s made by the Duffer Brothers, who I’ve never heard of before. That’s one of the great things about art and the low barrier to entry, there are always new players on the scene, testing limits, pushing boundaries. And “Stranger Things” is a horror flick, a fantasy/sci-fi production, but it’s also a human drama, about high school and families and…

It’s a whole world and you get sucked down the rabbit hole.

Quite a respite from this election cycle we’re living through, where everybody disagrees and is hunkered down in their bunker, unwilling to listen or change. And that’s the power of art, it’s the ANTIDOTE!

Life is boring.

But that’s what makes it interesting. Everybody’s the lead in their own movie, everybody’s got a story, which brings us back to the opening of this diatribe but…

Will Byers disappears.

But Eleven has got superpowers.

And Matthew Modine has never been better, he finally lives up to his rep.

And the series is referential. Not only to so many horror movies made previously, but “E.T.,” with the three kids in search of…

Kids are hamstrung by their parents, yet they live in a relatively stress-free world unburdened by adult responsibilities.

Of course there’s bullying and status issues, but…

I abhor fantasy, yet I like a good thrill. You’re gonna wonder about some of the choices the characters make, but you’ll find yourself pulled in by “Stranger Things.” Winona Ryder might be recognizable, but almost everybody else is not, it’s kind of like the original “90210,” these actors have been plucked from obscurity to leave their mark and…

Netflix gives you the money to execute your vision. Something we used to do in the music business before the suits took over. The artists know best.

And the public knows when something resonates.

I heard Dana Carvey on Stern, one of the most entertaining hours extant.

But I pulled up Garth’s Netflix special and winced, he doesn’t know how to sustain, Dana can riff, and that’s about it. But the Duffer Brothers?

We live in exciting times. Despite all the hogwash about short attention spans, “experts” telling us to make it ever so much more brief, the truth is we want to go deep, we want to enmesh ourselves in the story.

But you’ve got to write it, you’ve got to birth it and finish it.


“Stranger Things” is not the “Walking Dead,” a show that comes on once a week that we talk about the very next day. It’s something more sinister, like Cream or the rest of the album acts that didn’t cross over to Top Forty, at least not at first. “Stranger Things” is made for people who are digging, who want to go for the ride more than talk about it. It’s not for Instagramming, but for watching.

Some things remain the same, the public wants to be entertained, it’s got an insatiable appetite for quality entertainment.

And “Stranger Things” is that.

I’m not gonna tell you what happens. I’m just spreading the word. So that maybe you’ll take a chance and be happy.

“Stranger Things” is making me very happy.

Comments are closed