I’ve heard Stranger Things defined a million ways: A friend said it was The X-Files meets Freaks and Geeks. I’ve heard it described as an Amblin-era Steven Spielberg production of an unwritten Stephen King novel with music courtesy of John Carpenter. Basically, it’s a mish-mash of inspirations… you can see glimmers of Alien here, bits of IT there, while being slathered in the overall themes of something like Stand by Me.
Narratives being borrowed from other areas is not a new or particularly novel device of storytelling. Quentin Tarantino has made a career out of it. But, for some reason, Stranger Things has really found an audience, and that audience has gone absolutely apeshit over it.