A spoiler-free guide to the early '80s-inspired Netflix hit that everyone is talking about.
Ladies and gentlemen, Winona Ryder is back.
After disappearing from mainstream culture for more than a decade, the 44-year-old is returning to the screen for Netflix's summer release, Stranger Things.
Including Ryder's comeback, we've rounded up five reasons to start watching the series, stat.
The queen of ‘90s cool is back after a 15 year hiatus following that shoplifting incident at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Ryder opened up about her time out to Porter Magazine in their fall 2016 issue: “A lot of people had the perception that I just disappeared in the 2000s... [But] I was transformed into doing stuff I really wanted to do. It just wasn’t in the public eye.”
Just in case milennials and Gen Z don’t understand how major Ryder is, here's a cheat sheet: Ryder and Johnny Depp were the "It" couple of the era (pre-Kate Moss); she starred in cult classics including Heathers, Beetlejuice, How to Make an American Quilt and Girl, Interrupted; she was best friend to designer Marc Jacobs.
It was widely speculated that Ryder and ex BFF Gwyneth Paltrow uncoupled on bad terms, especially after Paltrow ran a blind item in her Goop newsletter. "Back in the day, I had a 'frenemy' who, as it turned out, was pretty hell-bent on taking me down," she wrote. "This person really did what they could to hurt me.”
But, above all that, Ryder is best-known her for doe-eyed cool girl style, which, after all these years, remains timeless.
The kids have rapidly become gif-fodder for the Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram crowd. The lovable, toothless Dustin, played by Les Miserables Broadway veteran Gaten Matarazzo, has won over hearts with his extensive knowledge of all of Tolkein's works and by managing the junk food snacks for the group's misadventures.
Another standout is Millie Bobby Brown, aka Eleven or Elle, whom the Duffer brothers convinced to shave her head after showing her a photo of Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) August 1, 2016
The Stranger Things costumes are meticulous in detail, likely conjuring some painful memories for those who lived through the '80s era.
The '80s feel-good horror film archetypes (think The Goonies) are skillfully represented through the wardrobe. The show takes place in a rural Indiana town in 1983, three years late on the fashion power curve. Winona Ryder’s character channels a former hippie-turned-mom, rocking a grown-out mullet and an itchy linen lace-up tunic and bell bottoms — clearly left-overs from the late ‘70s.
The four boys wear ill-fitting cotton striped ringer tees, bunched up, thick corduroy trousers and untied sneakers with dirty laces. The most telling reference to The Goonies is when Caleb, played by Lucas Sinclair, ties a bandana Samurai style a la “Data."
Big sister Nancy exemplifies “good girl” style in sweet, ruffled polyester blouses and confectionary-colored cardigans, light pink tights (remember those?) and dark flats. Fan-favorite Barb makes her first appearance with some serious frosted blue eyeshadow, clear Lucite frames, an ill-fitting pussy bow plaid blouse, and the jeans — those jeans! High-waisted pleated “mom” jeans, carrot-fit in stone wash. The jock boyfriend, in a thin cotton striped polo, carries a yellow and white piped gym bag. The gifted and “weird” Eleven stands out wearing either a hospital gown, or a dirty light pink Peter Pan-collared dress reminiscent of the twins in The Shining.
— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) August 3, 2016
Anxiety-inducing music, crafted by Survive band mates Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, propels the show to another level. Dark, textural instrumental songs — a nod to synthpop, prominent in the late ‘70s to early ’80s — bring a serious tone to the show. Even the most expert musical ear will have a hard time figuring out where the original music begins and the soundtrack begins.
The songs, selected by music supervisor Nora Felder, pull at the heartstrings for true blue ’80s kids. Hits by Foreigner, Joy Division and The Bangles emphasize climatic moments. The Clash’s "Should I Stay or Should I Go" wins the crown for most played thoughout the season, first heard during a relatable bonding moment between brothers Jonathan and Will, and used throughout as a signal of a "presence”. No spoilers here!
The Stranger Things title font gif is all over social media, more than any other moment from the show thus far.
The font sets the tone for the painfully authentic ‘80s tone of the show. Show creators (and brothers) Matt and Russ Duffer told The Hollywood Reporter it wasn’t inspired by a specific book. "We were working with this company called Imaginary Forces, and I think we sent them 14 or 15 different covers, not all Stephen King, but 90 percent Stephen King, paperback covers, that we really liked.”