Guest Contribution: Audre Myers’s Review of Stranger Things

I can now proudly attest that the esteemed Audre Myers, perhaps the one figure at the epicenter of my personal blogosphere, has contributed her first piece to The Portly Politico.  What a treat!  Even the way that Audre contacted me about her contribution is quintessential Audre:  she framed it as giving me a day off from the blog.  Very sweet!

I’m happy to give a day—or weeks!—over to Audre’s writing.  Her own blog, Words on the Word, is a lovely daily devotional; I recommend it highly.

Audre also shares my love of the spooky, the weird, the unexplained.  One of the first ways I became acquainted with Audre’s interests were her posts about Bigfoot over at Nebraska Energy Observer.  Here was someone writing with depth and seriousness—not conspiratorial goofiness—about Sasquatch!

That love of spooky weirdness is perfect for Audre’s contribution this week:  her broad review of the series Stranger Things, one of my personal favorite series as well.  The fourth season has just hit Netflix, so Audre offers up her take on the series as a whole—without giving away any of the fun plot points!

So, for the four of you out there that still haven’t seen Stranger Things, here’s Audre’s excellent review of and recommendation for the series:

I am on the ++ side of 50 and I grew up on horror movies, monster movies, Twilight Zone; the first book I read – that I chose for myself from my elementary school library – was an Edgar Allan Poe compilation. I’ve been a fan of ‘things that go bump in the night‘ for a very long time. A lot of that genre can be, ummm, less than spectacular, as The Portly Politico’s Monday reviews can attest (love Port’s and 39 Pontiac Dream’s reviews of really bad horror movies!). But sometimes … sometimes, you can stumble upon a nugget of gold.

Season four of Stranger Things has finally dropped to Netflix and I am over-joyed. Created and produced by Matt and Ross Duffer, they have accomplished quite an amazingly satisfying series – regardless of the age of the viewer. Like The Walking Dead, Stranger Things has a fan base with a huge demographic – from pre-teens to folks ‘of a certain age’, like me. Here is the link to their Wikipedia page if you’d like to know more about them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duffer_brothers

Something is going on in Hawkins, a little town in Indiana. Something not right; something strange, as a matter of fact. A group of misfit pre-teens become aware of the strangeness and there starts the story that will not only grab you but impel you to watch all of the seasons of the show. A great many people have a certain discomfort with child actors but I have to attest that, in this case, the casting couldn’t have been any better. These kids are awkward – pre-teen, after all – but that very awkwardness lends depth and a certain subtlety to the characters and makes them very real. This will be the one and only time you read me say anything good about Wynona Ryder’s acting ability; she is so bad an actress that that deficiency makes her absolutely perfect for the part of the mother of one of the pre-teen boys that is the catalyst in story. I know. I know. But believe me, she’s so bad she’s good in this one particular role. David Harbour (now a secret crush for yours truly) plays the Sheriff in Hawkins and he walks a very fine line between stereotype and epitome; common man with foibles and emotional baggage. One of all the children, Millie Bobbie Brown, stands head and shoulders above the rest of the kids and she is a gold mine for this series. Where they found her, I have no idea but keep an eye on her career; she’ll accomplish a great body of work if her acting abilities mature along with her age. She makes Stranger Things.

Now comes the hard part. How do I share with you why you should watch the series (without ‘spoiler alerts’?). I commend the Duffer Brothers – they have created a ‘something’ we’ve never seen before. There is no zombie lore or vampire lore to apply to the something. It’s original and it’s horrifying. No ghost history which can be applied here. It’s new – a new horror. Those of us familiar with 1950s horror movies that pointed to the government as the bad guys were prepared to laugh this off and drop IQ points from the series but those Duffer boys tweaked that old chestnut.

There is a good deal of humor in the series, a lot of laughing at ourselves as we relive our adolescence through the kids who live in Hawkins. There’s a lot of ‘I remember when …’ moments. The horror stuff they do really well, considering this is not some blockbuster Hollywood movie; small can be – and is – effective. Atmosphere – they are able to create a creeping unease as the story unfolds and sometimes we feel the mother’s desperation in a very intimate way.

I’ll bet that if you give season one a try, you’ll be up for and wanting the rest of the seasons. Have I ever steered you wrong? Why not take a shot and see just how Stranger Things can be.

81 thoughts on “Guest Contribution: Audre Myers’s Review of Stranger Things

  1. Excellent review, Audre, but I’m sorry – I was gripped until you said Winona ‘Tourettes’ Ryder was in it.

    She taints everything she’s in and removes a star from the rating just by being in it. If she gets killed in it – and bloody – I’ll probably give it a watch but if she drags her stupid, skinny posterior through 4 seasons, then sorry, I just can’t.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Talking of Joe Biden, Tina and I have been rewatching Supernatural. Audre will remember this. The head leviathan refers to the replaceable as ‘Joe Biden types – no spark, nothing in you.’ Perfectly apt!

    I tried to put up the link but it didn’t take. If you go onto Youtube and type supernatural leviathan joe biden, you’ll get the 37 second clip. Priceless.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OMG!!! I’m rewatching the series right now, too!!! Too funny! I started from the pilot so haven’t gotten to the leviathans yet. Right now, I’m looking forward to ‘meeting’ Charlie (I tho’t she was great; I really enjoyed her) and the skinny bug-eyed guy that you can’t help liking – as the Winchester Boys discovered.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I was planning at some point to review Supernatural but from 1-5. There are some good episodes and moments from 6 onwards but in my opinion, they didn’t need to be made.

        At the end of 5, Sam jumps into the pit, Dean moves in with Lisa and Ben and then you see Sam watching him so you know he’s out of the pit and Dean is happy. That’s where it should have ended for me but like many American series, it goes on much longer than it has to. We bought the last series last year and still haven’t watched it; the first few episodes were terrible and Tina struggles with the blasphemy – ie, God’s sister and the Winchesters fighting against God. I like the episodes with The Darkness but I agree with Tina; the blasphemy is off the charts.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Supernatural is great and there are some good episodes and storylines from season 6 onwards but there’s also a lot of dross. For me, it ended perfectly at season 5 and should have stopped there. Problem with American series though is if people are still watching, on and on they go. It was like that with Friends. Should have ended after season 2. Ross finally got with Rachel and it should have ended on a happy note. What happened is they dragged it on for 8 more tired series, to the point where the characters became whiny and annoying.

        I’m still looking forward to purchasing the last series of The Walking Dead but man, finish it after Negan! That series could have ended 2 years ago but they carried on. I’ll never understand it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Precisely. Gotta keep churning those ad dollars. Perhaps that is the sole benefit of the model y’all have in Britain, where you pay the government for a television license—the shows aren’t driven solely by a quest for ad revenue.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The evil characters are always the best. Crawley, played by England’s own Mark Shepherd (he also played the villain in the first series episode of X-Files, Fire), is superb as is the guy who played Richard Roman, Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer and Freddy Laine as the yellow eyed demon. The bad guys are always more interesting.

    We’re going to do this rewatch properly this time and watch all of it, including the last series. It might be painful but we’ll get there.

    I’m looking forward to Tyler’s number 6 choice for bad films next week. When we finally get onto top 10 best, will you be aiding us, Audre?

    Liked by 2 people

      • I disagree. I remember reading your pieces before you took a regular post at Neo and one thing I can say is that if I liked your writing before, I love it now. Your writing has come on in leaps and bounds and I love the disparity – you write on a whole range of things and all of them are weaved in your particular style which makes your pieces interesting, deep and, where the cases may arise, funny. I’m sure Port would agree with me in saying how much fun it’d be to write top 10 bests with yours as well. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • Golly! You sure know how to humble a person. And you’re hurting my arm! (wink)

        Ok; I don’t know if I can come up with 10 but there are horror movies I really liked – I guess I could muster up a couple of articles. But be warned! They will not be as good as yours and Port’s. Just accept that.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I agree completely. You approach writing like the weaver approaches the loom. The weaving analogy is apt—you wonderfully stitch together connections between seemingly disparate topics, which I love.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ll never accept that. There’s no better, just different. Plus, I doubt for a second that you and Tyler will swear in yours; you’re both too smart and polite for it. If I really despise something, I have to say what I feel and if that includes some rather ignorant blue language, then so be it! 🙂

    Tina’s just got the bunting out for the jubilee celebrations. We’ve bought enough booze to drop Richard Harris and we’re ready for the party atmosphere. God save the Queen! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. A quick off topic, Tyler, but if you get a few hours or so with your piano in the next month or so, can you give Exogenesis: Symphony Part 2 (Muse) a go? It’d be interesting to see you master that. Just listening to it at the moment as I’m pottering about. It’s a gorgeous bit of piano playing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I sent an article to TCW on the jubilee. I’m hoping it might go up tomorrow but it’d be presumptuous of me to think they’ll use it at all. There are far better writers (in that capacity) on the site than me.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. ‘A lot of franchises follow the pattern.’

    Yes they do and they’ll go out of business if they continue.

    My next entry (on mine and Tyler’s top 10 worst films of all time list) is a recent Disney film and crikey, it was a stinker. They had the opportunity to put out a good old fashioned adventure movie and what came out in the end was utter drivel. Keep an eye out because I have a feeling you’ll know what film I’m talking about.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. ‘Ha! What did you write that was potentially libelous?’

    I referred to Prince Harry as Harry Hewitt! I knew it was libellous when I wrote it but as it was an opinion piece (and a little cheeky), I thought Kathy might keep it in. No dice though. I guess she has to protect the interests of the site, especially since they’re being censored nowadays.

    Liked by 2 people

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