10 TV Shows You Can Stream Right Now to Fill the Stranger Things Void

A scene from Netflix's The OA.
A scene from Netflix's The OA.
Nicola Goode, Netflix

The third season of Stranger Things has been out for more than a month now, and along with some record-breaking viewership numbers comes the inevitable post-binge depression that crops up whenever your favorite show goes on hiatus for another year (for Stranger Things, it’s traditionally closer to a year and a half). But fear not: While the series’ blend of horror, sci-fi, humor, and heart might seem impossible to imitate, it’s not the only show that ticks all those boxes. So if you’re looking to fill that Stranger Things-shaped hole in your heart, these 10 shows should do the trick.

1. The X-Files

The original sci-fi/horror/supernatural/paranormal mishmash, The X-Files managed to outclass other genre shows at the time by crafting a quirky, offbeat, inimitable tone that the rest simply couldn’t compete with. Like Stranger Things, the whole series is awash in government conspiracies, shadowy agencies, unexplained phenomena, and a cast of characters hellbent on getting to the bottom of it all. Best of all? If you like it, there are 11 seasons to catch up on.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video (seasons 1-9), Hulu (seasons 1-11)

2. The OA

The OA is like Stranger Things’s far weirder, far artsier little brother. And while it was just unfortunately canceled by Netflix, the two seasons we do have are musts for anyone interested in trippy sci-fi shenanigans. The show centers on Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling), a blind woman who returns after having been missing for seven years—but now she has mysterious scars on her back and somehow regained her sight. From there, viewers are introduced to a world of malicious scientists, immoral experiments, alternate dimensions, and a lot of confusion (but in a good way), as Prairie—who has dubbed herself The OA, or “Original Angel”—reveals more about her mysterious disappearance and apparent resurrection. It’s more of a straight-faced head-scratcher than Stranger Things, but don’t let that dissuade you from embracing The OA’s world.

Where to watch it: Netflix

3. Wayward Pines

Mysterious disappearances, creepy small towns, a smattering of sci-fi and horror—the Duffer Brothers definitely have a type. Before the duo went to Netflix with Stranger Things, they had a stint serving as writers and producers for director M. Night Shyamalan’s like-minded Fox drama, Wayward Pines. In this series, Matt Dillon stars as U.S. Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke, who’s investigating the disappearance of two agents before ending up trapped in the seemingly idyllic town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, which soon enough opens itself up to all manner of conspiracies and unsavory villains.

Where to watch it: Hulu

4. Twin Peaks

Before the Duffer Brothers breathed life into the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, there was Twin Peaks, Washington, the titular suburb at the heart of director David Lynch’s surreal mystery drama about (among many other things) the murder of homecoming queen, Laura Palmer. Its effortless blend of surreal imagery, small-town horror, and twisting narratives influenced countless series currently in your streaming queue, but Stranger Things honored Lynch’s formula far better than most.

Where to watch it: Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

5. Orphan Black

Orphan Black is a sci-fi thriller that focuses on a woman named Sarah Manning (played by Tatiana Maslany) who witnesses the suicide of a complete stranger who just so happens to look exactly like her. This sets off a chain of events that sees Manning embroiled in a clone conspiracy as she faces off against an amoral corporation and an extremist religious cult, both of which have their own intentions for Manning and her newfound "sisters." Even if the heady mystery goes over your head, Orphan Black is worth watching simply for Maslany's powerhouse performance as an ever-increasing group of clones, all with different personalities.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video

6. Runaways

In this adaption of the Marvel comic by writer Brian K. Vaughan, a new type of superhero team takes center stage, starring a cast of diverse, powered-up teenagers tasked with battling their parents, who are pretty much secret super villains. It’s full of the usual conspiracies, aliens, and religious cults, but this series is automatically better than most because the character Arsenic (Ariela Barer) can telepathically control a dinosaur named Old Lace (a reference for you Frank Capra fans). Stranger Things gave the world a group of underaged underdogs to root for, and Runaways follows suit—just with a whole host of crazy powers.

Where to watch it: Hulu

7. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

If your knowledge of Sabrina begins and ends with the light-hearted Melissa Joan Hart sitcom from the ‘90s, prepare to do a complete 180 with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. In this updated take on the Archie Comics classic, Netflix has gone full-on blasphemous, throwing Sabrina and her world head-on into occult machinations and hellish plot lines, punctuated with stylish visuals and a touch of black humor. Like Stranger Things, Sabrina takes its supernatural world and throws it right into a small town and pits these terrors against the might of a hero who isn’t even old enough to drive yet.

Where to watch it: Netflix

8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer took a different stab at horror tropes by bringing a sharp wit and unique braininess to the world of monsters, vampires, and the undead—and it pulled it all off with a high-school heroine (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who proved to be a far more worthy action hero than most square-jawed, big-screen lunkheads. Creator Joss Whedon’s take on TV horror has a sublime quirkiness to it that helped set the stage for the offbeat world of Hawkins, Indiana.

Where to watch it: Hulu

9. Dark

If you’re looking for a series that goes a bit deeper and a little darker than Stranger Things, this German export from Netflix has you covered. On the surface, Dark covers familiar ground—like the disappearance of a child in a small town and a (partial) '80s setting—but this show's time-travel twists set it far apart from the goings-on in Hawkins. At the center of the vanishing children and reality-bending wormholes in Dark are the past, present, and future sins of four families: the Kahnwalds, Nielsens, Tiedemanns, and Dopplers. Expectations get subverted and characters are never quite what they seem in this one. Word of warning: Dark gets a little complex, so you may want to keep this online flowchart handy to make sense of these twists and turns. One quick note: Netflix defaults to a version with dubbed English dialogue, but do yourself a favor and switch to the original German audio with English subtitles. It's far less distracting, and easier to follow. 

Where to watch it: Netflix

10. The Toys That Made us

If your favorite part about Stranger Things is the ‘80s-soaked nostalgia factor, you can dive further into the era of excess with Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us. In this documentary series, each episode focuses on the history and cultural impact of one iconic toyline from decades past—spanning everything from He-Man and G.I. Joe to Barbie and Hello Kitty. There’s surprising depth and detail in every installment, as you’ll learn the backstory, production process, and key business decisions that helped turn these hunks of plastic into pop culture touchstones. And later this year, the show will premiere both a third season and a spin-off titled The Movies That Made Us, with one episode focusing solely on another Stranger Things crew favorite: Ghostbusters.

Where to watch it: Netflix

This Damn Fine Twin Peaks Box Set Is the Only One Fans Will Ever Need

Amazon
Amazon

Fans of David Lynch’s three-season drama Twin Peaks know there’s quite a lot to excavate. The series, which ran from 1990 to 1991 on ABC and returned for a one-season engagement on Showtime in 2017, has been a perpetual source of ambiguity, red herrings, and the downright inexplicable.

Now there’s a centralized hub of all things Peaks to dwell on. Twin Peaks: From Z to A is a Blu-ray box set containing all episodes of the original series; 1992’s feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me; 2017's Twin Peaks: The Return; an international version of the 1990 pilot with additional footage; as well as an abundance of new and archival material totaling 20 hours in length.

The box for the 'Twin Peaks: From Z to A' Blu-ray DVD set is pictured
Amazon

Inside the package, which is illustrated with the Douglas firs that are part of the show’s iconography, are mini-figures of Special Agent Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, played in the show by Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, respectively. The box acts as a diorama of sorts and opens to reveal the Red Room, a location where many of the show’s most surreal moments took place. A series of three-by-five index cards provide backdrops of key scenes. The only thing the set doesn’t have is Lynch’s hand-drawn map of the show’s Washington location, but you can find that here.

The set is limited to 25,000 copies. It retails for $139.99 on Amazon and is due for release on December 10.

[h/t Newsweek]

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Unraveling the Many Mysteries of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'

Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

The story of Neil Diamond’s "Sweet Caroline" has it all: love, baseball, Kennedys, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and the triumph of the human spirit. It’s pop’s answer to the national anthem, and as any karaoke belter or Boston Red Sox fan will tell you, it’s way easier to sing than "The Star-Spangled Banner." As the song celebrates its 50th birthday this year, now’s a good time—so good, so good, so good—to dig into the rich history of a tune people will still be singing in 2069.

"Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing," Diamond sings in the song’s iconic opening lines. Except the "where" part of this story is actually pretty simple: Diamond wrote "Sweet Caroline" in a Memphis hotel room in 1969 on the eve of a recording session at American Sound Studio. By this point in his career, Diamond had established himself as a fairly well-known singer-songwriter with two top-10 hits—"Cherry Cherry" and "Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon"—to his name. He’d also written "I’m a Believer," which The Monkees took to #1 in late 1966.

 

The "who," as in the identity of the "Caroline" immortalized in the lyrics, is the much juicier question. In 2007, Diamond revealed that he was inspired to write the song by a photograph of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy, that he saw in a magazine in the early ‘60s, when he was a "young, broke songwriter."

"It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond told the Associated Press. "It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.” Years later, in that Memphis hotel room, the song was finally born.

Neil Diamond sings the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl XXI between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos at the Rose Bowl on January 25, 1987 in Pasadena, California
George Rose/Getty Images

Perhaps because it’s a little creepy, Diamond kept that tidbit to himself for years and only broke the news after performing the song at Kennedy’s 50th birthday in 2007. "I’m happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline," Diamond said. "I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

The plot thickened in 2014, however, as Diamond told the gang at NBC’s TODAY that the song is really about his first wife, Marsha. "I couldn’t get Marsha into the three-syllable name I needed,” Diamond said. "So I had Caroline Kennedy’s name from years ago in one of my books. I tried ‘Sweet Caroline,’ and that worked."

It certainly did. Released in 1969, "Sweet Caroline" rose to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the decade that followed, it was covered by Elvis Presley, soul great Bobby Womack, Roy Orbison, and Frank Sinatra. Diamond rates Ol’ Blue Eyes’ version the best of the bunch.

"He did it his way," Diamond told The Sunday Guardian in 2011. "He didn't cop my record at all. I've heard that song by a lot of people and there are a lot of good versions. But Sinatra's swingin', big-band version tops them all by far."

 

Another key question in the "Sweet Caroline" saga is "why"—why has the song become a staple at Fenway Park in Boston, a city with no discernible connection to Diamond, a native of Brooklyn?

It’s all because of a woman named Amy Tobey, who worked for the Sox via BCN Productions from 1998 to 2004. During those years, Tobey had the wicked awesome job of picking the music at Sox games. She noticed that "Sweet Caroline" was a crowd-pleaser, and like any good baseball fan, she soon developed a superstition. If the Sox were up, and Tobey thought they were going to win the game, she’d play the song somewhere in between the seventh and ninth innings.

"I actually considered it like a good luck charm," Tobey told The Boston Globe in 2005. "Even if they were just one run [ahead], I might still do it. It was just a feel." It became a regular thing in 2002, when Fenway’s new management asked Tobey to play "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning of every home game, regardless of the score.

At first, Tobey was worried that mandatory Diamond would lead to bad luck on the actual diamond. But that wasn’t the case, as the Sox won the World Series in 2004, ending the "Curse of the Bambino" and giving Beantown its first title since 1918. In 2010, Diamond made a surprise appearance at Fenway to perform "Sweet Caroline" during the Red Sox's season opener against the New York Yankees. He wore a Sox cap and a sports coat emblazoned with the message "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn."

 

A different mood greeted Diamond when he returned to Fenway on April 20, 2013, just five days after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured nearly 300 others. "What an honor it is for me to be here today," Diamond told the crowd. "I bring love from the whole country." He then sang along with the ‘69 recording of the song, leading the crowd in the "Ba! Ba! Ba!" and "So good! So good! So good!" ad-libs that have essentially become official lyrics. Diamond also donated all the royalties he received from the song that week, as downloads increased by 597 percent.

The Red Sox aren't the only sports team to have basked in the glory of "Sweet Caroline." The song has become popular with both the Penn State Nittany Lions and Iowa State Cyclones football squads and has even crossed the Atlantic to become part of the music rotation for England's Castleford Tigers crew team and Britain's Oxford United Football Club.

Over the last five decades, millions of people have had their lives touched by "Sweet Caroline" in one way or another. The enduring popularity must be a pleasant surprise for Diamond, who had no idea he’d written a classic back in 1969. "Neil didn't like the song at all," Tommy Cogbill, a bass player at American Sound Studio, said in an interview for the 2011 book Memphis Boys. "I actually remember him not liking it and not wanting it to be a single."

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