Communicating the Upside Down: Meaning Making and Semiotics in Netflix’s Stranger Things

Anahit Behrooz | November 6, 2017
At its heart, Stranger Things is about tension: the tension between the normal and the weird, the familiar and the unfamiliar, the known and the strange. The normal and the familiar are established through the show’s primary setting – the small, quintessentially American town of Hawkins, where everyone knows everyone, children can play outdoors and, according to the town’s chief of police, Jim Hopper, the worst thing to ever happen was an owl flying at a citizen’s head. This familiarity is reinforced on an extradiegetic level through the numerous intertextual references to numerous works of 80’s sci-fi genre fiction, which provide a network of signifiers that make Stranger Things immediately readable and accessible. At the other extreme, events happen throughout the show to destabilise this familiarity.

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