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Stranger Things behind the scenes: How Netflix gives Hawkins its small-town '80s vibe

Contributed by
Jun 22, 2018

As we wait for Season 3 of Stranger Things to plunge us once again into the Upside Down, Netflix is tiding us over with a new, behind-the-scenes look at all the attention the show lavishes on making Hawkins, Indiana, feel like a real place, set in a real time. 

Featuring the Duffer Brothers, a handful of stars, and key players on the show’s on-set creative team, it’s a neat bit of insight into the thought and effort that go into recreating the feel of small-town life in the 1980s — not as a nostalgia exercise, but as a lived-in, representative slice of innocent pop culture so ripe for subversion once those twisted experiments at Hawkins National Laboratory spin out of control.

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All the visual candy that goes into shaping the show’s Spielberg-worthy setting is the product of tons of scouting and cultural cross-referencing. “To create an authentic period world requires thousands of specific decisions — that sheet; that cassette tape on that bedroom dresser,” executive producer Shawn Levy explains. 

Emmy-nominated set decorator Jess Royal says every detail, whether a stack of period-correct Three Musketeers wrappers, the right version of the ‘80s classic Simon memory game, or just the right household appliances, is thoroughly researched. 

“I keep a Sears catalog on my desk for whatever year we’re shooting in, and I reference it — it’s like a bible,” says Royal, while elsewhere explaining that the goal is to recreate the style of movies she "loved watching as a kid: movies about kids on bikes on an adventure.”

Co-creator Ross Duffer says all the obsessive attention to physical detail is aimed at invoking the magic of the movies he and brother Matt Duffer loved as kids. “That’s the tone of the movies that we grew up with; that we love — that there was a realness and a grittiness to them, but also… you know, they find a pirate ship.”

Check out the clip above, then head back to Netflix to catch all the pop culture references you may have missed in Seasons 1 and 2, as you wait patiently for Netflix to reveal when Season 3 will finally land.