Genre Theory and Stranger Things

Breaking Boundaries, Nostalgia, and Pop Culture Influences

  • Hailey Glennon KPU Undergrad Student


Netflix’s original series Stranger Things took over the world with its scary monsters, likable characters, and nostalgic 1980’s rural setting. In this article, I analyze genre theory, specifically how this trending television series embodies the horror genre at its roots with its mangled monsters and demon like villains, while also touching on the truths of society and adolescence. Through the use of reference to the two latest seasons, I draw upon examples and argue about how the classic elements of the horror, such as the physical monster and body, are at the foundation of this show, yet it is the corporation of the sci-fi and drama elements that showcase the ways the show breaks boundaries of what the audiences may expect. Giving a brief breakdown of genre theory as a whole and its evolution from simple patterns to providing a deeper meaning through more modern films, I reference film scholar Thomas Schatz to illuminate how Stranger Things shifts from using certain conventions within genre and twists expectations. I analyze the importance of having aesthetic complexities and themes, such as the coming-of-age struggles and mental health issues, while never backing down from the scary, demonic, and otherworldly dangers presented in each season. Lastly, I breakdown how the use of the 1980’s provides viewers with the perfect nostalgic feeling that has aided in the influence in the rise of trends and pop culture icons.