From Winona Ryder to Dungeons & Dragons, Stranger Things became a phenomenon when it debuted on Netflix in July 2016. From spawning endless Halloween costumes to outcries over the death of a certain redheaded character (RIP Barb), Stranger Things was a critical as well as a commercial success.
The series received 18 Emmy Awards nominations in total, including an Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series nod for Barb actress Shannon Purser, an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series nom for Millie Bobby Brown’s performance as Eleven, and an overall Outstanding Drama Series nomination for bringing back that Goonies mentality we didn’t know we needed.
And this past weekend at Comic-Con, the Stranger Things team hinted at some potential justice for Barb’s far-too-early demise. To temper our anticipation (at least for a little while), they also released the trailer for Season 2 of the hit series set to MJ’s “Thriller.”
Stranger Things returns just in time for Halloween. But what are we supposed to do until then, aside from re-watch the show over and over? It is only eight episodes. Well, while we’re all waiting, here are 9 TV shows in the same vibe as our favorite love letter to the 80s.
1. Twin Peaks
David Lynch’s brainchild, Twin Peaks, quite distinctly comes to mind when watching Stranger Things. Small town America, a child disappearance/death, a town turning “Upside Down” (ha, get it?) in their wake. And while the show was cancelled after two seasons, Showtime recently revived the acclaimed series but set it 25 years later, as agent Dale Cooper (Kyle Machlachlan) finds his way back to Twin Peaks, Washington in a story replete with mystery, camp and supernatural phenomena (ring any bells?). Do start with the original series though to get the full Lynchian effect.
With an obvious Twin Peaks coating over the small town of Riverdale, which is made even more apparent with appearances from crossover stars like Mädchen Amick, the CW’s adaptation of the Archie comic book series goes darker as the first season seeks to uncover the secrets shrouding Jason Blossom’s death. We rally behind a tight group of friends whose comic personae you know and love, including Archie himself, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, who take it upon themselves to reveal what the town’s been hiding. Come for The Suite Life of Zack & Cody alumnus, binge to watch the juicy mystery unfold.
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3. Freaks and Geeks
Although there are no supernatural phenomena to be found in Judd Apatow and Paul Feig’s landmark singular season series that launched the careers of numerous stars including James Franco, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen, Freaks & Geeks similarly circulates around a group of teens during the 80s–some who consider themselves freaks, and others who deem themselves geeks. When watching, you can relate to members of both arbitrarily defined classifications (we’re all a bit of both, naturally), and can definitely see parallels to Stranger Things in terms of social dynamics.
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A British show for your enjoyment, Misfits also centers around a group of outcasts, but who all garner supernatural abilities thanks to a freak electrical storm. Think Fantastic Four, but no Marvel. And if unlike Sansa you’re missing Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones, tune in for a pre-Battle of the Bastards Iwan Rheon. The show also won the 2010 BAFTA Television Award for Best Drama Series.
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5. The Twilight Zone
Although The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is no more, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the series that inspired the ride. Known for his episodic exploration of supernatural phenomena, Rod Serling began “welcoming us to the Twilight Zone” when his anthology series debuted in 1959. Any episode will do, but one standout storyline in particular is entitled, “The Eye of the Beholder,” which holds a mirror up to society and makes you question your idea of beauty. Quite startling.
6. The X-Files
Another series that questions the secrets the government is keeping from public knowledge (perhaps for good reason, perhaps not), The X-Files chronicles the investigations of Mulder and Scully into paranormal activity occurring among us hapless citizens. Similar to Stranger Things as a deep dive into the conspiracies we all believe to exist just under our noses, The X-Files has plenty of episodes to watch, what with its 10-season spanning run and recent 6-episode revival in 2016.
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7. Big Little Lies
Suspense that makes you never want to stop watching until you discover what exactly those “big little lies” are covering up, the Emmy-nominated, limited series may not be set in the 80s or feature kids getting the investigative job done. However, Big Little Lies does provide that binge-worthy quality that made you refuse to get off your computer until you finished the eighth episode of Stranger Things. And at only 7 episodes, Big Little Lies is a breeze, and will make you so voracious to find out the truth that you’ll reach the end of this 7-hour film, really, all too quickly.
Topping the Emmy nomination totem pole with 22 overall, Westworld is a masterwork in world-building. After all, J.J. Abrams does serve as an executive producer. The series challenges the conventions of a typical Western by adding a sci-fi twist, which is similar to Stranger Things in adding some supernatural sprinklings to a suburban town. Tune in to see Emmy-nominated performances from the likes of Evan Rachel Wood, Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton in the 10-episode debut season.
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
No show compares to Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it comes to female empowerment and supernatural phenomena descending upon an unsuspecting town. Buffy and her Scoobies fight demons and vampires all while they battle the everyday torments high school renders. Sound familiar? Joss Whedon’s premier series ran for 7 seasons total, so you’ll have plenty of episodes to watch in between now and when Stranger Things returns for Halloween. The Hellmouth will happily fill the void the Upside Down left vacant.
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