References in Television: Make or Break?


Photo Provided by “Know Your Meme”

Erica Bentley , DVC News Editor

Easter eggs in media are always an exciting treasure to find, but when there seems to be no limit to them, some people lose or gain interest from the array of references.

Netflix originals Riverdale and Stranger Things, share common themes of horror and thriller and have numerous references that are said to either make or break the show. The Duffer brothers edited together a variety of films in order to pitch the idea of Stranger Things to Netflix.

“I think it was around 30 different movies — a lot of them were from the ’80s, but not entirely from the ’80s — movies that we cut together to kind of tell the story of the show,” Matt Duffer stated in an interview with NPR.

This seems as if the references used were to create the concept of the show, which could have been a mistake on the part of the creators, if not strongly executed.

“To us, actually, this stuff — it didn’t feel like this hodgepodge,” said Ross Duffer. “It all felt like a whole when we all put it together and we put the music over it.” Which says many things about the talents and the ideas of the Duffer brothers.

Stranger Things includes references from movies like E.T. and It. The setting along with the vision of the Duffer brothers really sheds light on the ‘80s era and gives viewers a sense of nostalgia.

The audience of shows like Stranger Things is usually those who have grown up or lived through the ‘80s listening to songs like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Archie comics were first published in the 1950s and were innocent, mundane tales of an all-American group of teens. Riverdale, on the other hand, is an original, drama and thriller twist on the regular Archie comics that is primarily targeted at a teen audience.

Riverdale has taken original Archie archetypes and given the dimensions of real people because the archetypes are a stable platform to build the show on. Riverdale is a teen drama and thriller and takes the emotion of shows such as Dawson’s Creek, 90210, and Twin Peaks with its atmosphere of drama and murder mystery.

The references that crowd Riverdale seems to be cliches that the people who grew up with Archie want to get away from since becoming adults and growing out of the teen drama.

References have the power to overpower a television show’s plot or to help form the cornerstone in which it’s created.

“For TV shows, in general, depending on how they’re used, they can be very funny and relatable,” said Jane Earle, a senior at Da Vinci Communications and frequent viewer of Stranger Things, when speaking of references. “It pulls people in from different genres saying like ‘Oh I can relate to that’ and ‘that’s something I’ve seen before’.”

Viewers of Riverdale agree that it’s better to watch without references in order to look at Archie with fresh eyes. Alternatively, the vast audience of Stranger Things greatly opposes this view and holds that the inclusion of references adds to the nostalgia and comedy of the show. References can either make or break a television show and that is ultimately up to the viewers’ preference.