13 engrossing shows and movies to cure your ‘Stranger Things’ hangover

Stranger Things theories
So that’s it: You’ve finished the second season of Stranger Things and now find yourself struggling to fill the massive void in your life that was formerly occupied by the events transpiring in and around (and under) Hawkins, Indiana.

Where do you go from here?

Fortunately, we live in an age where a multitude of options are available for scratching that Stranger Things itch, all from a variety of popular streaming services. Whether you’re looking to kick off another binge-viewing session, get wrapped up in a new adventure with a group of heroic kids, or delve into similar dark, fascinating depths of sci-fi and horror, there’s a cornucopia of movies and television series available with just a few clicks.

We’ve done the hard work for you and assembled a list of 13 titles that will (hopefully) satisfy that post-Stranger Things craving. (Warning, some very light Stranger Things 2 spoilers exist below. Continue at your own risk.)

TV Series

Black Mirror

We ranked this sci-fi anthology series’ new Netflix-backed season 3 as one of the best shows of 2016 (along with the first season of Stranger Things) because of the way it blends fascinating, dark visions of our world with expert storytelling — two elements that are also found in abundance in Stranger Things. Sure, Black Mirror is decidedly more adult fare, and doesn’t often channel the same nostalgia (for an exception, see San Junipero), but both series draw heavily from our nightmares in different ways. With a fourth season of stories about humanity’s complicated relationship with technology coming later this year, it’s a good time to get acquainted with Black Mirror.

Available via: Netflix

Freaks and Geeks

Widely regarded as one of the best hidden treasures of the 2000s and considered among the top shows to be canceled too soon, Freaks and Geeks was the brainchild of Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and Superbad and Anchorman producer Judd Apatow. The series follows a group of high-school misfits during the 1980-1981 school year as they navigate the trials and tribulations of those awkward teenage years. While there’s no supernatural element here, there’s plenty of nerdy camaraderie among the brilliant cast that includes a host of talented young actors before they became household names, like Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco, among others.

Available via: Netflix

Misfits

This British sci-fi series follows a group of teenagers who acquire strange abilities while doing community service for various crimes, and offers an unfiltered — and frequently raunchy — look at what might happen if young adults with questionable morals and raging hormones suddenly developed superpowers. The show was notable for launching the careers of several young actors, including Iwan Rheon (who might surprise Game of Thrones fans with his heroic role in the series) and Preacher actor Joseph Gilgun.

Available via: Hulu

Red Oaks

This one may swing a bit wider than some of our choices (pun intended), but if you liked Paul Reiser’s insidious-yet-lovable character on Stranger Things 2, Dr. Owens, you’ll enjoy his crotchety-yet-lovable role here as the cantankerous President of the titular country club. Like Stranger Things, this series is a hybrid, borrowing strains of classic ’80s films like Caddyshack and Fast Times at Ridgemont High that hit so close to the bone, you’ll feel like you’ve fallen right into the era. Yet, also like Stranger Things, this heartfelt comedy strikes its own course, and offers more than enough fresh comedy sprinkled with neon, spandex, and muscle cars to keep you glued to the screen.

Available via: Amazon

The OA

Many hailed this Netflix original series as “the next Stranger Things” when it was first previewed, and while that comparison didn’t exactly hold up, the series’ premise — in which a young, blind girl disappears for seven years, only to reappear with her sight restored — holds plenty of similar supernatural appeal. Created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij with Marling in the starring role, The OA is a mystery wrapped in an enigma that polarized audiences and maybe more importantly, inspired plenty of discussion.

Available via: Netflix

The Twilight Zone

The granddaddy of sci-fi and supernatural storytelling on television, this anthology series launched in 1959 with host Rod Serling was many Americans’ introduction to the classic stories and tropes of the sci-fi genre that would go on to inspire generations of storytellers in various media. Stranger Things might take its cues from ’80s pop culture, but much of that era’s genre projects had their roots in the fantastic, zany — and often scary — multiverse of The Twilight Zone.

Available via: Netflix

Wayward Pines

This recent sci-fi mystery series takes plenty of inspiration from Twin Peaks and casts Matt Dillon (Crash) as a U.S. Secret Service agent investigating the disappearance of two fellow agents in a small Idaho town that — as he soon discovers — is home to a wide range of weird mysteries. While the show’s supernatural elements and critical praise are reason enough to check it out, the series also features several episodes penned by Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer, so it also provides an early look at the pair’s storytelling skills in action.

Available via: Hulu

The X-Files

The sci-fi series that epitomized 1990s paranoia and supernatural mystery, The X-Files was the touchstone series for a generation of audiences hungry for a regular dose of monsters, ghosts, aliens, and other paranormal phenomena. The Emmy-winning series cast David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively, tasked with investigating unexplained mysteries in what would become career-defining roles for both actors. The series was revived in 2016 with a new season of paranormal adventures, and will continue in 2018 with season 11 of The X-Files.

Available via: Hulu

Movies

Arrival

One of 2016’s most surprising gems and our pick for the best movie of the year, director Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is a story about humanity’s first encounter with an alien species that’s so much more than its time-worn premise. The film boasts some impressive visual effects and digitally created extraterrestrial creatures, but it’s also a supremely human story about the way we communicate with each other and the choices we make in life. (And if it helps convince you to tune in, the alien entities in Arrival also seem to share some visual characteristics with a certain monster in Stranger Things, so there’s that, too.)

Available via: Hulu, Amazon

E.T.

One the most iconic sci-fi movies of all time, this straight dose of spellbinding Spielberg brilliance features the blueprint for the Stranger Things playbook: A group of kids thrown into an adventure with a strange creature and pursued by sinister government agencies. The 1982 film featuring young protagonists who can only trust each other just might be the most significant influence on Stranger Things of any film or television project out there, which is saying something. E.T. has it all, from alien magic to one of the greatest chase sequences of all time. For anyone who saw this film at an early age, there’s no better reminder of the sort of filmmaking that informed Stranger Things, and why it hits so close to home.

Available via: Netflix

Gremlins

Gremlins 3 Gizmo

Director Joe Dante’s classic 1984 horror film follows a young man who’s given a cute creature as a pet by his eccentric father, only to have his small town overrun by miniature monsters as a result of his carelessness. The movie tested the boundaries of the “PG” rating with its mature scares in a film marketed for younger audiences (eventually leading to a new movie rating system), in much the same way Stranger Things puts its young cast through some truly terrifying experiences. For reasons we’ll leave unwritten (for fear of spoiling any plot points), the Gremlins story shares a lot in common with the second season of Stranger Things — but that’s all we’re going to say about that.

Available via: Netflix

It Follows

One of the absolute best horror movies made in recent years, It Follows offers a clever new angle on the genre with a tale about a college girl victimized by a supernatural curse that passes from one person to the next as a sexually transmitted disease. The film’s unique concept, distinctive lighting and tone, and out-of-time aesthetic that feels ’80s but doesn’t quite fit with that time period, all blend together to offer a film that’s like nothing else out there. A concept that could have easily devolved into a movie about sexed-up college kids humping their way to safety becomes a compelling, terrifying, and surprisingly intelligent story about growing up and facing your fears in the hands of writer-director David Robert Mitchell, adding up to so much more than its intriguing concept.

Available via: Netflix

The Monster Squad

It’s a story as old as the blockbuster, it seems: A group of nerdy kids are forced to save their town from terrifying monsters when all of the adults in their lives refuse to believe the threat exists. This 1987 film pitted a group of monster-obsessed friends against the classic Universal monsters — led by Count Dracula himself — for a story that managed to be both scary and hilariously funny in equal parts, in much the same way Stranger Things strikes that same balance. Although it didn’t fare well in theaters, the movie has gone on to become a cult classic that finally answered an important eternal question about the anatomy of the Wolf Man.

Available via: Hulu

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