throwback to a paranormal success

On May 27, the phenomenon series returns in season 4 on Netflix. With the adventures of Eleven, Mike, Will, Dustin and the others, it’s a whole world that we find with nostalgia.

In the summer of 2016, a UFO landed on the screens, which immediately made an impression: Stranger Things. For three seasons, this science fiction series, whose (anti) heroes are teenagers, has won all the awards (already 65 awards, including prestigious Golden Globes, Emmys or Grammys) and has risen to second place. of the most-watched English-language series on Netflix. The fourth season, the first part of which will be unveiled on May 27, will it do better than the nearly 600 million hours of viewing of the previous part? In any case, it has been awaited by millions of fans for three years already.

Archetypes that speak to everyone

Inspired by all the pop culture of the 1980s, this phenomenal series owes part of its success to the nostalgia it provokes. The first season opens with the disappearance of Will Byers, a 12-year-old preteen that his gang of BMX geek friends are trying to find. The looks are straight out of eighties. It is about a secret laboratory responsible for supernatural slippages and a “upside-down world», an icy mirror reflection of a society anesthetized by everyday life, which conceals all the fantasies of a fragile carelessness. Added to this is a young girl who is the subject of experiments (the revelation of the series, Millie Bobby Brown), a resilient heroine endowed with superpowers. And an exceptional guest-star: Winona Ryder, cult actress of the 1990s, brought back to life by the series.

On video, Stranger Things season 4, the trailer

From the start, Stranger Things brings together all the springs of the tales – suspense, monsters, twists – and plunges us back into the innocence of childhood, where unity is strength, where we are ready to face the impossible, carried by friendship and solidarity. The recipe for ultrastream success. “The series touches the heart of a VHS audience who chained science fiction films to the video recorder, analyzes Fabien Loszach, sociologist, advertising strategist and columnist on Here Radio Canada Premiere. When we look Stranger Thingswe find his childhood room of the 1980s. We revisit the adventures of gangs of young people, in the tradition of Goonies, by Steven Spielberg, or Stand by Me, by Rob Reiner. It’s an epic lived by children who solve puzzles and in which the adults are just characters who worry. It’s classic in pop culture mixed with horror movies, and those archetypes speak to everyone. These characters, which are not a priori the most popular at school, resemble today’s geeks. Except that the arrival of the Internet has given them success and popularity, like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. The geek has gone from the role of outsider to that of superhero.

Stranger Things season 4. netflix

The Cold War in the background

With its vintage aesthetic, the saga seduces both the under 25s, who discover the youth of their elders by proxy, and their parents, who relive the years when they were fed by TV between Club Dorothee, the fantastic films of Spielberg and the music of John Carpenter’s horror films. As for the boomers, they nod their heads in front of the scripted reminders of the Cold War, against a background of questioning America consumerist and full of secrecy-defense, in almost 34 breathless episodes. “In the 1980s, the East-West conflict was structural, constitutive of thought, recalls the sociologist. We have forgotten it, but a whole generation has grown up with the threat of a nuclear warhead overhead. The blockbusters of this period are overwhelmingly based on the Cold War. In short, the series, created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, thrills everyone with its positioning “Alien arrives in Back to the future“.

A concentrate of outdated modernity

Throughout the seasons, Stranger Things traces the thread of contemporary history by deciphering both a bygone era and the present world. In the third season, for example, a new shopping center focuses the attention of the teenage heroes. “It is a reminder of the importance in the United States of the cultural mall, constitutive of the socialization of young people, emphasizes Fabien Loszach. It is there that they meet, that they exchange, that they mingle. They are emblems of the 1980s. Nostalgia also feeds on typical objects of the time, such as radio cassettes. “These are reassuring elements in a pre-Internet world, where we did not have the impression of being subject to immediacy, says the sociologist. The hyperconnection, the frightening acceleration of the world calls out, but it must be put into perspective that for each generation, the next one is already going too fast.In Hawkins, fictional town, real America, smartphone embryos are walkie-talkies, TVs are heavy as tanks, and telephones are wall-mounted. A concentrate of outdated modernity that fascinates Generation Z and moves those who grew up between 1 Sesame Street and Casimir.

Stranger Things season 4. netflix

Derivatives: the ransom of success

The aura of Stranger Things is such that a fruitful derivatives market has developed to fuel the passion of spectators. Thus, in season 3, the teams from Levi’s, an emblematic brand of the 1980s, collaborated with the costume designers of the series by creating outfits for two characters… also sold in stores. Nike, very eighties also, released in 2019 a collection Stranger Things, including sneakers, hoodies, t-shirts and caps inspired by heroes’ high school. For the world of fashion, the success of the series is the perfect opportunity to sell new products to young people… more and more fans of vintage. Moreover, Netflix has signed many collaborations with brands like Highsnobiety, Havaianas or H&M. The merchandising generated by the series (toys, mugs, Lego, etc.) enhances the phenomenon.

The broadcast platform is not the only one to benefit from this success. The star actress of the series, Millie Bobby Brown, 18, has become a coveted muse. After launching her own cosmetics line Florence by Mills, she has just been named ambassador for Louis Vuitton with a first campaign for sunglasses. Four years ago, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière, had created a T-shirt bearing the image of the series he loves, recalling the close ties that unite fashion and series. On the screen, we will find the young woman as a key character in the new episodes which promise to be even darker, opposing esoteric powers and mental strength, with always the inexhaustible war between good and evil. The heroes are in high school, their group is separated, until a new threat arises underpinned by a mystery that could turn everything upside down. The children have grown up. It remains to be seen whether the public which, according to Fabien Loszach, “doesn’t really like to see his heroes grow old», will follow them.