Why Stranger Things Is More Than Just Its Nostalgic References

Ahead of Stranger Things' fourth season, Matt and Ross Duffer addressed remarks from critics in a new interview, in which the cast praised the writers.

By Cydney Contreras May 23, 2022 5:29 PMTags
Watch: Stranger Things Season 4: "Kids Will Have Nightmares"

The Duffer Brothers acknowledge that Stranger Things references a lot of popular '80s films, but they don't think that's the reason the Netflix series is so popular. 

"If the show was only working because of the nostalgia you feel for bringing back that particular piece of music or referencing that moment in a film that you love," Matt Duffer told The New York Times, "then yeah, it wouldn't be working with a 10-year-old."

Ross Duffer said that they pay tribute to iconic films but added that it's more important to "figure out how to tell this story and tell it well."

The Duffer Brothers have been criticized for being overly derivative of filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, with the New York Times describing early criticism of the show as saying it was "little more than '80s karaoke." The article mentions one of Stranger Things' biggest critics, Slate writer Willa Paskin, who wrote that the series "misunderstands a key element of Spielberg's work."

But the Duffers' mentor M. Night Shyamalan said the brothers are still early in their careers, saying, "I think their style is going to continue to evolve."

Stranger Things Season 4: Everything We Know So Far

He continued, "I think they became super successful by doing this story, but it wouldn't shock me if we see something after this that doesn't sound like this."

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

But if Spielberg and other director are insulted by the familiarity of Stranger Things, they haven't said anything. In fact, the Duffers are set to executive produce the upcoming Netflix series The Talisman, based on Stephen King's book of the same name, alongside Spielberg.

And the cast credited the brothers with fostering a safe and secure environment for the young actors as they dealt with increasing fame. Finn Wolfhard said, "When we get on the set, we feel like we're 12 years old again. And that is a huge reason, I'm sure, why a lot of us haven't gone crazy."

Sadie Sink even likened Matt and Ross to being family. "It's really that kind of relationship," she said. "And they'll always be a huge part of all of our lives because of this."

Stranger Things: Season 4 Photos

As for the upcoming season four, which is divided in two parts, the famously secretive siblings offered no insight. Fortunately, the cast told E! News a little about what to expect: "Kids will have nightmares," Joe Keery, who plays Steve, warned. "If I was a kid and I watching this, it would be disturbing." 

The first episodes of Stranger Things season four arrive on Netflix May 27, with the final episodes of the season dropping on July 1.

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