Why Stranger Things Worked

By: Diamond Braxton

Let’s face it. There are a million reasons why we love Stranger Things. It managed to accomplish horror while still being a TV show, and that has hardly ever been done before. Even American Horror Story is scarier in the aspect that some of the themes it presents are horrifying, but the show itself doesn’t make you jump out of your seat.

Stranger Things somehow managed to keep us on our toes until the very end (literally I binged watched it in one day because I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t know the ending).

Now, I could go into the screenplay aspects of why Stranger Things worked well as a horror, but I want to keep it light and understandable for my first post. Stranger Things primarily worked well because of the characters & the unknowns it presented.

If you are an aspiring screenwriter with hopes of making it in the thriller region, then this post is for you. Stranger Things managed to tackle ideas that have consistently been through TV shows and movies for decades, however, the show made it seem as though we’d never seen it before.

As a screenwriter, it’s important for you to know that it is 99.9% impossible to come up with original content. Every idea has most likely already been turned into in a film, or TV show. However, don’t let this frighten you. Viewers love turning to things that have already been done before. We love watching horror movies, vampire movies, etc. but what we really love is seeing how our favorite content can be twisted around!

Stranger Things accomplished this when it came to one of its main characters: Eleven. We all know and love Eleven, but why? Aside from the fact that she’s an 11-year-old girl with a shaved head, Eleven is something we’ve already seen before but in a new light. Eleven is the science project, most likely being created for warfare. However, she manages to escape and finds her way to our beloved medley of Stranger Things characters. What’s special about Eleven is that although she’s one of the main characters, she isn’t one of the main-main characters.  Eleven is almost a side-piece amongst the trillion major things going in the show. We have the disappearance of Will, the Demagorgon, and the science creation. However, we don’t see Eleven that way. We love her, and we want to keep her, but we can also say she is more of an aiding factor in the plot than the main story line.

When it comes to characters, Stranger Things did an amazing job with presenting us with such a talented cast at such a young age. How often do you see talented children actors in a horror show that aren’t actually a part of the horrifying things happening? We LOVE the kids because they are the actual heroes of our show, and are anything but the creepy little grunge girl that somehow always randomly appears in the middle of the night.

Here’s the main reason why Stranger Things took flight aside from its amazing cast. The show barely gave you anything to feed off of. In the first episode, you might have caught a slight glimpse of the Demagorgon, but in reality we knew nothing of the species until the very end of the season.

When it comes to writing Horror, we get caught up in the scariest aspect of the show, when in actuality it should be the opposite. The more you keep hidden, the scarier your show will be. When you think about it, the scariest part of a scary movie is waiting for the scary part to actually happen. It’s the foreshadowing, the unknown that scares us the most, and not the actual horror of it all. Of course the Demagorgon is terrifying, but what’s even more terrifying is that we don’t even know it’s actual name, how it kills its victims, and how it’s stuck in a world that’s inbetween all worlds. 

To keep horror horrifying, you have to begin to hold your scariest aspects back. This is what’s going to keep your audience tuning into your next episode. Give them enough scary hints and images to keep them thinking about what the big scare could possibly be, but leave it to their imagination to do most of the scaring until you reveal the the monster. Horror is already difficult to do as a movie, but as a TV show? You’ll have to keep your audience guessing, but if you do it right then you could have an amazing show on your hands.

One response to “Why Stranger Things Worked”

  1. Jason Shepherd Avatar
    Jason Shepherd

    I’ve never seen Stranger Things, but your analysis makes me want to. I think I’ll look it up. Great piece, Diamond. So proud of you!

    Like

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