Can ‘Stranger Things’ Save Netflix From Its New Self?

Stranger Things cast
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Julia Alexander
May 30, 2022

Netflix is experiencing something of an identity crisis. Once the undisputed leader in streaming video, the company is now facing the prospect of slowing growth, heightened competition, high debt, a low hit rate, and a dreary narrative both in Hollywood and on Wall Street. Competitors are offering more premium content and cheaper plans. Meanwhile, subscribers are looking to trim their monthly budgets as the economy slows and prices rise. Not for nothing has Netflix’s stock price plummeted more than 70 percent since last fall.

Look, people have written a lot about Netflix lately—its future, its mistakes, and where it can cut costs. I recently learned, for instance, that Netflix has a shuttle plane to ship employees back and forth between Los Angeles and Los Gatos. Is that a bit grand in the Zoom era? But I’m not going to get into all that. Instead, I want to discuss the impact of one show: Stranger Things

A Global Phenomenon

Stranger Things, which debuted in 2016 and returned this weekend for its long-awaited fourth season, is one of Netflix’s most important shows for two key reasons. First, it proved that Netflix originals could play globally, helping to create customer bases in more than 130 countries. Travel outside the U.S., particularly in Europe, and the Stranger Things brand is ubiquitous. It’s a genuine international hit.