Sunday, September 4, 2016

Stranger Things Made Me Feel


Ahhh, hits me right in the nostalgia

Netflix isn’t just for random movies on a night in anymore; their ability to produce a series and release it all at once is a binge-watcher’s dream. As the mom of a toddler, I don’t get to binge-watch things all too often. So, while all of my friends had consumed the entire first season of Stranger Things (and then proceeded to rave all over Facebook about it), I was about 2 episodes in. The Mister and I were able to pace ourselves by watching one episode every night after our daughter had gone to bed, we got really crazy on a Friday and watched 2 episodes (I know, so wild!). Honestly, I’m glad we had to stretch out the experience of watching the show. The mood of series, the mystery, the storytelling were all so well done that having time between episodes allowed me to sit with what I had seen and ask questions about what was coming next.

There was so much of this show tugging on my own nostalgia for the 1980’s (both my own real experience of that time period and the portrayal of the 1980's on film and screen). There were enough small nods to those films it was playing off of, that you couldn’t help but fall under its spell. Everything about Stranger Things just looked and felt right for what they were trying to do, it was completely captivating. But, while I thoroughly enjoyed this series and I am anxiously awaiting Season 2, I was left with a great feeling of sadness once it was over.

Not sad in that, “what do I do with my life” feeling one experiences after completing a series or a season of show. You know, where you're convinced no other show will be as good or powerful but you still chase that dragon with other series to fill the void.

Send help...and your HBO Go password

It really took me a while to understand where this sense of longing and loss was stemming from. At first I chalked it up to the nostalgia factor; but then, I realized it was the child characters who were leaving me with this lingering ache. Deep down, I know that kids don’t really hang out like the ones in the show do and that I wished my child could have pals like that. THAT was what was making me feel so out of sorts from watching this series.

We don’t live in a world where kids become buddies who hop on their bikes and disappear all day; where a group of children would have a secret hiding place that no adults knew about. A world where kids could get lost telling each other stories through roleplaying games in a basement for hours on end. One in which, the children come up with their own rules, structures, and consequences for their tiny tribe. The relationships between the core friend group on Stranger Things was so complete: they thoroughly knew one another, accepted each other, and called their friends out on their bullshit when necessary. And I’m just so damn sad that my daughter won’t get to have that. Hell, I didn’t even have that.

My parents were afraid of the world and only allowed me to experience it in very safe and very small ways as a child. I longed for the freedom to ride away on my bike with my friends or have a secret clubhouse without anyone checking on us. I do feel like I missed out: I never played manhunt in the dark as a kid, I rarely was permitted at sleepovers, I wasn’t trusted to make my own food. As a result, I went to college and had the shattering realization that I had no clue how to feed myself (but that is another tale for another time). 

Growing up, I always assumed I would be different with my own children and let them be a bit more free. However, we live in a world where you can have the police called on you for allowing your child to walk home from school or play in the park without supervision. Watching Stranger Things really pulled into focus the reality that my daughter won’t have the chance to be a kid in the way those kids are (not in the secret experiment, alternate dimension way…the other way).

I want her to have friends she sees face to face and goes OUTSIDE with. I want her to have friends that know her inside and out, who aren’t afraid to let her know when she’s being a jerk, and who create their own group norms and expectations. I want her to have friends who aren’t afraid to be themselves, who have her back and stick up for each other, and who can create whole worlds together with little more than one another’s company. I want, I want, I want...

This is why Stranger Things left me with an ache inside that I couldn’t even put a name to at first. I want a world where all of this is still an option and this beautiful show is a reminder that it isn't.


#StrangerThings #Netflix #Nostalgia #1980s

6 comments:

  1. Great post. I absolutely agree with your sentiments here.

    Uri

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  2. Wow, I see myself so much in this post. I wanted to give my kids everything that I didn't have. I had very strict parents that never allowed me to go on school trips, have sleep overs, race around all over town with friends. So when my kids were old enough I encouraged it and thought I was giving them wings. Years later my daughter informed me that she felt that I didn't care about her safety, allowing her to go off to band camp and spend the night at friends houses. So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Just enjoy your daughter, give her those things that you can, love her and don't let guilt get to you. They really don't miss what they don't know. Someday she will look back on her childhood and say that she wishes she could give her kids the childhood she had.

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    1. I had to laugh at the "damned if you and damned if you don't" part because isn't that always the way? Thank you for your kind words, I hope I can find the balance that's right for my daughter. For all I know, she'll grow up to be a total hermit crab!

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  3. I totally had the same parting sorrow after finishing Stranger Things. Except mine was the opposite, I did have that same group of friends in the 80's growing up together from elementary school through jr. High. I have the fondest memories playing D&D, having sleep overs, riding bikes for hours as a group after school, creating interesting inventions and gadgets, exploring the desert on dirt bikes as we got older and having crushes on the same girls in the neighborhood. If you've seen the movie Super 8 then we were that gang too. The 80's were great memories with my tight group of friends. I see my kids now and hope, like you that they will find their band of brothers and sisters to bond with. No kidding, after Stranger Things I contacted my buddies that are now living across the country and Let them know that despite the decades of separation, I still missed them and the response was positively overwhelming. So I thanked God for the friends he gave me in my youth and hope the same for my kids one day. When watching the show with my wife she got a kick out of my delight with the kids' dynamic on the show, then told me that she never had a group of friends like that growing up. After reading your comments I'm wondering if perhaps that experience was just a 12 year old boy thing?

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    1. I'm so jealous! I think it's awesome that you can call those same guys up all these years later and let them know what they meant to you. I think it depends on the parents, I knew at least one girl in my neighborhood who ran wild with the boys outside. But she was the one of a number of children and maybe the parents wanted some of them out of the house. I have hope for my daughter that she can make real friends like yours in the coming years.

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