Stranger Things

A recent bout of flu confined the teen and I to the comfy couches in our seldom used living room and while sofa-ridden, we decided to binge on Netflix.

Being a teenager, she is well-versed in binge watching. Me, on the other hand, I only watch television when I am ill. So she had seen pretty much everything, and some things twice, but not Stranger Things.

She admitted that her friends’ descriptions of the plot line were a bit too grisly and scary for her tastes, so she’d avoided it. Never the less, she was game and we were pretty much out of options for hours worth of viewing after our Harry Potter marathon and still had a lot of flu left to go.

She was hooked quickly. A Goonies fan, there was much for her to latch her imagination to but the first season only periodically pulled my attention away from social media. The early 80’s are my heading into young adult years. I remember most of that time period through those lenses, but season two has been pretty good. Particularly, the soundtrack.

The teen grimaces. Her eyes roll. And she is of the firm opinion that the term “good” cannot be applied to any music before the 21st Century – except for possibly the theme from Ghostbusters – but as the episodes rolled on, I was reminded of that not everything from the 80’s needs to be killed with fire.

Most everything about the 80’s perplexes my kid though. Rightly, when I stop to consider it. Even a fictionalized fantasy version of it seems fairly far-fetched from the vantage of 2017.

The Soviet Union and the American obsession with it, for example, is difficult to explain.

There are a couple of brief references to the 1984 POTUS election that brought back memories as it was the first national election I was old enough to vote in but for her the idea that a woman on the presidential ticket wasn’t normal is hard to fathom.

Rotary phones. How did we manage without phones in our pockets and purses?

And the hair. God the hair. Christ, we had no concept of fashion. The 70’s really left us without any sense of style. I blame polyester and blow dryers.

Beneath the tropes, caricatures and nostalgia, however, is a well-told  and crafted story-line. Better than anything Spielberg ever came up with to part children from their cash. Reminds me, again, that we are truly living in a golden age of television again.

And I have to admit, it’s changed my perception of Winona Ryder. I am loving her turn as a mom. I can’t remember a single mom of that era with that much gumption but she has convinced me the could have existed.

Dustin is my favourite character and I am totally #teamSteve since his redemption arc.

I’ve never been much for nostalgia. I’ve mentioned this before. I leave places and times behind me without longing looks back. Any fantasies I may entertain about long gone days are rooted in “what would I change?” because I would rewrite my life if given the opportunity. Not because I dislike where and who I am but because I know there are forks in the road where I should’ve gone another direction and fear or social conditioning prevented me from doing it.

The 80’s though wouldn’t make my list of decades to waste effort traveling through. So little came out of that span of time given that it followed a decade plus of some significant upheaval. It’s like people got to 1980 and ran out of gas. Settled. Tremendous waste of resources can sum it up nicely.

It’s fascinating that the series creators choose to highlight it via a quasi sci-fi horror lens. And it also feels just about right.

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