Spoiler alert: There are a few mentions of things that happen in Stranger Things, so if you haven’t seen the series yet, proceed with caution. On the other hand, if you haven’t seen Stranger Things, but you’ve seen a lot of movies from the 80s, odds are you’ve already experienced what people seem to think is most interesting about the show. So the question remains: Can you really spoil something built to exploit nostalgia?
For the last few weeks, it seems all anyone can talk about is the Netflix show Stranger Things. It’s like they’ve totally forgotten about Friends and Seinfeld and just moved on.
What’s everyone so excited about? Well – are you sitting down? – it’s full of 80s film references! ET? Yep. Poltergeist? Oh yeah. The Goonies? You better believe it. In fact, there is a long list of references you can see here.
We just love stuff that exploits nostalgia like this - taking us back to a time when things were more innocent (and more white!).
Even if a series runs out of steam after the 4th episode, wastes Winona Ryder by having her scream constantly (“Winona, that was a bit too subtle. Can you do the line again and this time just scream it.”) and squanders the suspense it built up with a “let’s stop the alternate dimension monster” story – even if all of that happens, as long as a show has lots and lots of references to other better stuff we love from 30 years ago, that’s all that really matters.
So when we saw this thrilling announcement...
... we decided to come up with a list of other references we absolutely need to see in the second series…
The Ghostbusters theme should be playing constantly
It would be so fun to have different characters say, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” at key dramatic moments. Even the alternate dimension monster could have a go.
Better still would be if they played the original theme song throughout the series when Charlie and his little brother Will are listening to “cool” 80s music. “Hey, check out this incredible Smiths track,” Charlie might say, and then the Ghostbusters theme plays. Then both Charlie and Will turn to the camera and say, in unison, “Remember?”
Joyce gets a dance instructor that looks a lot like Patrick Swayze who teaches her to dance… dirty
At first, she can’t stop screaming about that alternate dimension monster, but then she starts shaking those hips and, well, that means more Netflix subscribers.
The rousing warehouse dance-gymnastics of Footloose
Yes, a monster that opens its face like a plant and eats you up is pretty scary. But what if that plant-face monster could dance like Kevin Bacon?
They find ANOTHER alternate dimension that’s ruled by three men and a baby
Randomly and without warning, the town is faced with the lingering horror of Vietnam when a veteran tries to put his life back together
The humour of Coming to America
On second thought, you would need more than a few minorities for that kind of thing. And Stranger Things isn't interested in that.
The quip-filled action of The Terminator and Robocop
You can’t have 80s nostalgia without catch phrases. We will consider the second series a failure if every other line of dialogue is not “I’ll be back” or “I’d buy that for a dollar”. Or make up new ones like “I’m parked right over there” or “Mind if I wash my hands?”
Like in The Dukes of Hazzard, Steve drives a car with the Confederate flag on it
In the 80s, you could have a show about a couple of southern “good ol’ boy” outlaws who help people while driving around in a car with the Confederate flag on it (the symbol of slavery!) and it was totally cool.
Eleven and the other kids pile into a black van and she says, “I pity the fool”
Everyone looks at her blankly and she says, “That’s from The A-Team, my favourite show.”
Whenever anyone is drinking anything, it should be New Coke
And while they’re drinking New Coke, the characters should be saying, “I hope this New Coke thing sticks around.” Then we can look at each other, nod and laugh because it didn’t stick around.
Introduce a new monster: The Cabbage Patch Kid
Will wonders why he’s having bad dreams and he wakes in the middle of the night, staring face to face with a Cabbage Patch Kid, whose eyes are glowing red. The doll's lips aren’t moving, but she is laughing, that is certain. Will gets out of bed, only to be placed in a choke hold by Teddy Ruxpin. Then a Care Bear howls, “solve this puzzle, jerk!” and stuffs a Rubik’s Cube in his mouth.
This degenerates into an 80s toy beat down unparalleled on the small or big screen. Smurfs, He-Man, Voltron… everyone gets a piece.
Joyce tries to get Will to come eat his dinner and he screams, “I’m playing Donkey Kong! Next up? The Legend of Zelda.” Then he looks right at the camera and says, “Remember?”
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
Every scene with Chief Jim Hopper should open with him reading a newspaper (remember those?!) and saying things like, “Only thing the Soviets are going to find in Afghanistan is trouble" or "Damn shame about the famine in Ethiopia” or “Financial deregulation seems like a good idea now, but I’ve got a feeling we’re going to pay for it later.”
Then he looks right at the camera and says, “Remember?”
Barb comes back from the dead! And she can’t stop crying about the still unsolved assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme
Eventually, Nancy decides she’s had enough and is all like, “Give it a rest, Barb. Christ.” Then we never see Barb again. This is sure to be controversial because of how much everyone loves Barb for absolutely no reason - other than, possibly, the desperate need to connect with a real human being, to anything that’s not a phone, something that might love them back.
Except Barb doesn’t love anyone back.
She’s a pretend character in a TV show.
A TV show full of 80s references.
Follow Nick on Twitter.