If you're like so many others out there, you have already binge-watched the entire first season of Netflix's must-watch horror thriller Stranger Things, a love letter to genre fiction from the 1980s that centers on a small town's citizens tracking down a missing boy. (But you probably know that if you watched.) While Season 2 is all but certain, considering Netflix's track record with renewals, nothing has been made official yet. So while we wait for that, followed by the waiting for the actual release, here are 12 other shows out there that should capture the attention of everyone who wants a distraction from obsessing over The Upside Down.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? Night Gallery was created by the godfather of strange TV, Rod Serling. A follow-up to the seminal Twilight Zone, this anthology series had less of a sci-fi bent and was more welcoming to otherworldly creatures and dark fantasies. You might not find any Demogorgons, but there is no lack of sinister motivations and mysterious dangers within Night Gallery's many stories.
Where Can I Find It? You can currently watch all 43 episodes of Night Gallery on Hulu.
Stephen King's IT
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? This should be a pretty obvious one. Nightmarish being haunts small town, particularly its children, and it's (partially) up to a charismatic group of young kids to save the day. Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer initially wanted to make the big screen version of Stephen King's IT but got turned down, though one of the upcoming film's producers recently said the film would share similarities with the Netflix series. It's the ouroboros of monster-killing preteen fiction.
Where Can I Find It? Unfortunately, the IT miniseries isn't available to stream anywhere, so you'll have to spent $3.00 on the DVD at the Dollar General.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? Created within the twisted imagination of David Lynch, Twin Peaks was a show like no other, namely for its eccentric meshing of psychological horror and dark comedy. (For instance, the villainous entity BOB is disturbing to the point of hysterical giggles.) But things kick off with a mystery involving a young person in a weird small town, and it follows local law enforcement, and a dapper federal agent, as they try to solve the case. Sound vaguely familiar?
Where Can I Find It? Both seasons of Twin Peaks are currently available on Netflix and Hulu.
Dead Like Me
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? The Upside Down exists on a plane of reality that humanity is not altogether aware of, as do the main characters of Dead Like Me, they're all Grim Reapers. The first show created by the amazing Bryan Fuller, Dead Like Me also had a fully realized universe for these mortality-mulling characters, and I think Ellen Muth's George would have fit right at home with Mike and the guys or Barb, but definitely not with Steve and his cronies.
Where Can I Find It? Both seasons of Dead Like Me are currently available for streaming on Hulu.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? While Stranger Things was immersed in all things 1980s, the show was way more gorgeous than most horror fare from the decade, and the French series The Returned (__Les Revenants) is easily one of the most beautifully shot pieces of zombie fiction. The central mystery in this case involves a town where the dead suddenly reappear as they were before dying, and here children also serve as some of the perplexing main characters. This is for people who like their horror stories more moody and contemplative.
Where Can I Find It? Seasons 1-2 of The Returned - not to be confused with the U.S. adaptation of the same translated name - are available to watch on Netflix.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? With striking visuals and a lavish production design, HBO's Carnivale wrote the rules of its own mysterious and fantastical universe, where an unspeakable evil threatened to destroy the existence of a traveling carnival and its unique population. Both shows offer episodes that inspire immediate speculation-fueled conversations, and if Stranger Things somehow wouldn't get renewed for Season 2, then the also-set-in-the-past Carnivale would have some more company in the pantheon of TV Shows That Were Cancelled Way Too Soon.
Where Can I Find It? You can find both seasons of Carnivale on HBO Go and HBO Now.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? The biggest reason? Fox's bizarro small town mystery thriller Wayward Pines was where Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer made their TV writing debuts. The brothers wrote four of the most WTF episodes in Season 1, and it's easy to see how they made this transition, while knowingly pulling back the reins on the misdirects, the twist-topping twists and the melodrama. A popcorn-worthy experiment in weirdness, Wayward Pines was the training wheels that the Duffers released before hitting the open road with Stranger Things.
Where Can I Find It? Both seasons of Wayward Pines are available to watch on Hulu, though it's the first season that's a more pertinent choice here.
The Great Horror Family
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? To me, the best kind of horror is the kind that lets you laugh while you're anticipating the next shocking moment, and Stranger Things delivered in spades. On the flip side is the Japanese series The Great Horror Family, which is essentially a family comedy that freaks you the hell out with a variety of ghastly and horrific creatures and scenarios. And like Stranger Things, this WTF-com couldn't be more confident and embracing of what makes it great.
Where Can I Find It? You'll probably need to purchase The Great Horror Family to enjoy it to the fullest, but it's well worth the trouble to pick it up.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? While Noah Hawley's small screen adaptation of the Coen brothers' Fargo is more crime drama than anything else, there are absolutely moments of dread-dripping horror and explanation-free sci-fi. (I still don't know what Season 2's abstract plot elements were about.) This is also another case of a small town's citizens being far more interesting than the outside world, and one in which a very specific type of black comedy is present even when the tension can't get more palpable.
Where Can I Find It? Fargo Season 1 is currently available to stream on Hulu, while Season 2 has to be rented from Amazon Video or another fine retailer.
The Lost Room
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? We're shooting for both similarities in plot and in genre-bending style here. A miniseries created for Syfy (then Sci-Fi), The Lost Room followed Peter Krause's character as he searched for his missing daughter, which leads him to the enigmatic titiular area that defies time and space, originating after a mysterious event happened in the past. A great cast adds to the weird story, which admittedly could have used some of Stranger Things' levity.
Where Can I Find It? At this point, it looks like your streaming options for The Lost Room are limited to Amazon Video.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? Black Mirror should ideally appeal to anyone who enjoys the darker side of science fiction, which presumably includes lots of Stranger Things fanatics. Like the serialized thriller, Black Mirror excels at layering dread on top of viewers while keeping them guessing, and it's equally good at finding the strangest places to get a laugh. The attention to detail, as well, is similarly stunning.
Where Can I Find It? All six episodes from the first two seasons, as well as the Jon Hamm-starring Christmas special, are currently on Netflix, where Season 3 is currently coming together.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? If Stranger Things' setting of Hawkins, Indiana had a town hospital that was created by the very concept of "weird," then it might be in same ballpark as the 1994 Danish miniseries The Kingdom (Riget) and its 1997 follow-up. With death and the supernatural as a guiding focus for the sometimes random absurdities within this bizarre hospital - such as dishwashers with Down Syndrome who discuss the hospital's uncanny incidents - The Kingdom mixes dry humor into its disturbing situations, and one could expect nothing less from creator Lars Van Trier.
Where Can I Find It? Unfortunately, you might end up having to buy The Kingdom on DVD, but it's totally worth it.
Why Would It Appeal To A Stranger Things Fan? Geeky guys come across an interesting and powerful female whose background is steeped in science oddities, and one of the guys' brother is a main character. Weird Science and Stranger Things are basically the same show. Not really, since this USA Network adaptation of John Hughes' 1980s classic - see, the 1980s connection is here, too - is far more goofy and comedic than the horror-driven series, but there are more than enough strange circumstances.
Where Can I Find It? All 78 episodes of Weird Science are available on Hulu.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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