Stranger Things — A Good Show… But with Predictable Tropes
Netflix is going to take over the world… that or a giant fungus
You know how it is when there’s a hot television show, and the whole world except you watches it? Well, that happens to me quite often as I don’t tend to waste time in front of the television, even though TV culture is slowly dying thanks to all those streaming services. Speaking of which, there’s this show that everyone likes called Stranger Things that started way back in 2016, and I didn’t watch it when it started. In fact, I only started to watch it because the characters appear in Dead by Daylight. As you can tell, licensed use of IP can help promote something years after its release. Anyway, I started watching, and it was a blast!
Netflix might’ve pulled their licence from Dead by Daylight, but I still started watching years after everyone else started. In any case, I find the show intriguing and quite entertaining to watch, if not a bit childish with how children repeatedly save the world instead of responsible and well-educated adults like how it would be in real life (a bit like in anime in that sense). However, it does get stranger with the seasons (no pun… oh, who am I kidding, pun DEFINITELY intended).
Usually, I would take the time to talk about incorporating the Russian language into the show, but I don’t know where to start with that as I didn’t think it through. What intrigues me about Stranger Things is the lore and how cryptic it is in conveying the message that something creepy is going on with the town of Hawkins, Indiana. And then there are the monsters… who are constantly referred to by their colloquial name, loosely based around Dungeons & Dragons (Demogorgon, Mind Flayer, Vecna… you get the idea). It’s a bit late, but I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, and I would like to examine the tropes utilised by the show and, by extension, its lore and how it unfolds. It’d be cool to try…
Every season, a new plot device monster
So Stranger Things is an exciting show; it establishes in the beginning that there’s a parallel world that’s exactly like Earth, except that everything suffers from an overgrowth of a giant fungus, and these monsters are everywhere. It doesn’t tell you exactly what it is, and over the seasons, you learn almost nothing about it; in the show, they call it the Upside Down. Now, the mystery that is the “Upside Down” (as funny a name as it might be) is only unfolding with the most recent season, and there seems to be an interesting development. However, I can only assume that it comes down to the most popular tropes.
The show is not above using tropes, and I think this is most present with Logan’s Run aspect, where it’s always the children that save the world and, for some reason, can outsmart PhD scientists. But even if Upside Down has an interesting origin, whatever it is can be limited to the most familiar tropes. I mean, what can it be? Time travel? Alien invasion? Maybe somebody discovered magic, which also came with all these weird creatures.
I’m saying that most contemporary ideas, and the fictional works that derive from them, are all tropes that have been done already. You have the whodunit narrative, the Groundhog Day scenario, and all the other variants of “it were just a dream”. The origin of Upside Down can be as creative and sophisticated as it can be, but in today’s world, it can’t be too surprising. I would describe my theory on what it is, but it’s also based on time travel tropes and whatnot, so there’s not much surprise there either. But it’s still a good show and an enjoyable watch.
How original can a plot be?
There are ways to avoid tropes as much as possible. If one sees the need to do so, that is. I would give my advice, but that’s ill-advised so take it with a grain of salt.
First, write down your story; the plot, the narrative, the characters, everything. Then, once you’re content with the plot, review it and examine it, and ask friends and family what they think of it. Then, analyse any familiar tropes in your plot, and then think of something for which you can switch. For example, if it’s time travel, don’t make it about time travel as you need to expand with more rules and regulations. Suddenly, the protagonist isn’t time travelling; instead, they are entering the inner worlds materialised by a person’s imagination. I know it sounds complicated at first, but this is just an example of how to make it more complicated.
All or most tropes removed, connect the elements and create the lore. Now, you have a show to write and a world to build. But… it will be the next big hit on Netflix? I can’t promise that.
Do you like Stranger Things?
Because I do, and it’s a great show, if not a bit childish (sounds like something I said earlier… oh well). But do you think it could be better with some adjustments? What kind of adjustments would you give it? This is the section to do so… as usual.
So… Stranger Things is worth watching if you haven’t done so already. And don’t feel ashamed to jump in late. I did so, and frankly, many other people did too.
Also, I’m looking for more Netflix shows to watch, something that could entertain me. If not Netflix, then Prime, which is a good alternative. If you have any good shows, you would like to recommend to me. I would love that. More things to write about, after all.
I still wonder why they took back the license from Dead by Daylight, which was such an ingenious move. Oh well… it’s Netflix’s loss.