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Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Published March 1, 2024

“Stranger Things” and “Stranger Things” alternatives: Here’s what the A&E desk is loving this week

British music and binge-worthy television is the name of the game this summer.
Image by Mary Ellen Ritter

The national divide in our media landscape has never been more stark: There are those who have binged “Stranger Things” season four and those who have not. The powerhouse Netflix sensation is pushing forward this summer with a noticeably-aged cast and the backing of a certain ‘80s musical masterpiece.

Fear not, if ‘80s nerdcore nostalgia isn’t your vibe, there are plenty of other exciting happenings in the world of arts and entertainment. Here’s a look at what the A&E desk is recommending this week:

“Come for Me” by Shygirl: Shygirl, the South London rapper and electronic music producer, has steadily risen through the ranks of dance pop music’s murkiest edges the last few years by cultivating a steamy club afterparty it-girl persona and crafting a sound reminiscent of a fetish club DJ remixing Rihanna. Despite boasting an astir list of collaborators (FKA twigs, Lil Uzi Vert, SOPHIE) and live shows (Berghain in Berlin, Primavera Sound in Los Angeles, many-a-club in London), Shygirl has left her growing fanbase bereft of a proper full-length studio album—until now. “Come for Me” is the latest single ahead of Shygirl’s debut this September and it takes the futurist to more experimental territory than most of her recent output. Clocking in at about seven minutes, the deconstructed club beat and disembodied vocal fades underline the studio chemistry between Shygirl and her friend/producer Arca, packing promise for the approaching album, titled “Nymph.” – James Schaak

“Conversations with Friends”: For those of you still suspended somewhere in a post-semester streaming slump, look no further than Hulu’s TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel, “Conversations with Friends.” Centered on a pair of twenty-something former lovers and their increasingly complex interpersonal relationships, the series attempts to cover vast ground that includes an extramarital affair, reproductive-related illness and quarter-life-crisis-induced plight. While the series falls flat in many of the ways that “Normal People” seemed to soar (less chemistry in the tenderly awkward sex scenes, lackluster dialogue, etc.), it’s worth a watch for fans of Rooney’s slow-burn, realistic portrayal of modern relationships or those who find themselves enthralled by Joe Alwyn’s dry charm. – Sophia Zimmerman

“Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” by Kate Bush: If you hadn’t already known the name Kate Bush, you surely do by now. Since the release of the fourth season of “Stranger Things” late last month, the 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (Make a Deal With God)” by the British art-popstar has flown to the top of the charts for the first time in 37 years, setting records for Bush decades into her career. In the new season of “Stranger Things,” Bush’s song is used in arguably one of the best scenes of the series: the red-haired tomboyish character, Max (Sadie Sink), runs from the monstrous Dungeons & Dragons-inspired villain Vecna’s clutches toward the safety of her friends, as Bush’s heart-racing beats and psychedelic synth elevate the tension. The song’s themes of isolation easily resonate with its many new Gen-Z listeners, a demographic considered by some metrics to be the loneliest living generation. Bush’s well-deserved chart recognition and her wistful music’s reintroduction to a younger audience is perhaps the most pleasantly surprising “Stranger Things” plot twist yet. – Maya Marchel Hoff

“Stranger Things” Season 4, Volume 1: In the long-awaited fourth installment of the Duffer Brothers’ supernatural sci-fi thriller, the ode to all that is nerdy and nostalgia-worthy about the ‘80s, nothing comes easy for the zany bunch of characters, whom audiences have grown to love since the show first premiered in 2016. After a significant (pandemic-induced) delay, in the wake of the previous season’s hefty cliffhangers, the show returned with its latest edition in late May after nearly three full years without a new episode. Still, their storytelling doesn’t falter in the first half of the season (Volume 2 is slated for release this July), though it hinges on an addictive but infuriating slow burn throughout as characters, now separated due to the events of last season, struggle to reunite to accomplish their united goal to finally put a stop to the “curse” on their beloved hometown of Hawkins, Indiana. Keeping to tradition, even this volume (satisfying and explanatory as it is) ends abruptly, leaving viewers in nail-biting suspense and anticipation for a resolution that increasingly becomes more necessary throughout the release’s seven episodes. At least this time we won’t have to wait so long; I’m already dying for more. – Bel Moran

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