Analysis: ‘Stranger Things’ season 4 delivers horror with an ’80s nostalgia vibe


Back then, I could not wait for summer to arrive, as it meant being out of school, catching fireflies with my friends and plenty of ice pops.

Now, as an adult, it means high gas prices, uncomfortable temps and — if I’m lucky — cocktails on a patio with friends while the mosquitoes feast on us.

You know what? I think I’m just going to stay in and stream some happiness.

‘Stranger Things’ Season 4

(From left) Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair star in "Stranger Things."

I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but the thing about “Stranger Things” is that it’s so much more than that.

Season four has been split into two different parts and is going big — and I don’t just mean in terms of the child actors growing up. No spoilers here, but I will say we learn a bit more about the character Eleven, who is played to perfection by Millie Bobby Brown.

The first portion of the new season of “Stranger Things” is streaming on Netflix.

‘Look at Me: XXXTentacion’

The documentary "Look at Me: XXXTentacion" traces the late rapper's rise to fame.
Rapper XXXTentacion was only 20 years old when he was gunned down in 2018 in Broward County, Florida.

But his music and the fascination with him and his life lives on.

Director Sabaah Folayan uses unseen archival footage, and commentary from those who knew and loved him, to tell the story of how XXXTentacion went from a kid with music dreams to one of the most-streamed hip-hop artists ever.

The documentary is streaming on Hulu.

‘Ricky Gervais: SuperNature’

Ricky Gervais speaks onstage at the season three premiere of Netflix's "After Life" at the BFI Southbank on January 6 in London.

Ricky Gervais is beyond irreverent.

So it should be no surprise that folks are up in arms about his new comedy special, in which he takes aim at cancel culture.

Why has it made the list of what to watch this week? Because I am a firm believer that we should not bury our heads in the sand when it comes to controversial content.

Far too often, we complain about things that we don’t even know, understand or have context for in a nuanced way.

If you want to see what the uproar is about, “Ricky Gervais: SuperNature” is streaming on Netflix.

Two things to listen to

Liam Gallagher performs onstage during the Brit Awards 2022 at The O2 arena on February 8 in London.

Speaking of problematic, musical artist Liam Gallagher has seen his share of controversy as well, including his contentious relationship with his brother and former group member, Noel.

Liam Gallagher now has a new album, titled “C’mon You Know,” and, apparently, no regrets.

“I don’t think I’ve put a foot wrong,” he told Esquire. “I think it’s gone pretty much to plan.”

The new album dropped Friday.

Steve Earle performs at the 20th Annual Americana Honors & Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 22, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Steve Earle is honoring one of his heroes.

His new album with The Dukes, “Jerry Jeff,” is a tribute to singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, who died in 2020.

“This record completes the set, the work of my first-hand teachers,” Earle wrote in the liner notes, referencing 2009’s “Townes” and 2019’s “Guy,” which were made after those mentors had passed, according to “The records were recorded and released in the order in which they left this world. But make no mistake — it was Jerry Jeff Walker who came first.”

“Jerry Jeff” was released Friday.

One thing to talk about

Queen Latifah attends the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27 in Hollywood, California.
I was blessed to talk to Queen Latifah about her weight loss journey and why she wants people to focus more on health when it comes to obesity.

She was incredibly open not only about her own struggle, but also how being a plus-size woman in Hollywood can result in pressure from both those who would have her thinner and those who want her to continue to represent larger women.

She reminded me that you can’t please everyone, so it’s better to find contentment in yourself.

Something to sip on

(From left) Justin Hartley as Kevin, Chrissy Metz as Kate and Sterling K. Brown as Randall star in "This Is Us."

It seems like only yesterday I received a DVD containing the screener for a new NBC drama titled “This Is Us.”

Yes, that’s how long ago it was — networks were still mailing out DVDs of their new shows.

Nearly six years later the series has ended, having weekly torn the hearts of many a viewer. It tapped into the emotion of life and family in such a way that long after the show is off the air, people will be talking about the masterful storytelling.

But, for me, it’s the cast of “This Is Us” who were not only incredible on the show but seemed to become an actual family over the years as they took on viral dances on social media and held onto each other as they shot into stardom.

Thank you, Pearsons — and all the other characters in their world — for the joy you brought to your audience over the years.

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