Childhood Nostalgia and Stranger Things

Image courtesy Bret M. Herholz

If you haven’t watched the latest installment of Stranger Things, you might want to watch that first before listening because we’re heading into Spoiler country. 

Season Four of Stranger Things hit Netflix in two parts. The first seven episodes aired on May 27th and the last two on July 1st. Most fans have praised season four as an improvement over season three. The Duffer Brothers delve deeper into the world they’ve created with this show introducing a central villain who seems like an amalgamation of Freddy Krueger and Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies.

But not only that, there are also elements to this season that might hit home for anyone who were around and remembers the year 1986. One thing is the way the bullies are represented in this season as opposed to previous seasons. Bullies like Steve Harrington and Billy Hargrove were very multifaceted. Steve went from being a smug rich jerk to possibly one of the most popular characters on the show forming a bond with Dustin in particular. Although Billy wasn’t repentant as Steve was, you come to find out that his father is a crueler bully than he is. And it gives the audience a little insight to where his character is coming from and why he is the way he is.

The bullies in this season are more black and white in the form of jock Jason Carver and Eleven’s tormenter Angela. There’s nothing redeeming about these characters. They’re just cruel and spiteful and seem to enjoy it. Jason is domineering and abusive and Angela is a mean girl who is verbally abusive. Both are surrounded by their little group of sycophants that enable them. In Jason’s case, his friends are gutless and don’t stand up to him. With Angela, her little pack of jackals do her bidding. While they both seem more closely aligned with the stuck up rich bullies of a John Hughes film, there is something more real about them than the bullies in previous seasons. Many of us might’ve dealt with an abusive jock like Jason Carver or a mean girl like Angela. 

This season also dealt with other topics that were still considered to be very taboo at that time in a very sensitive way that was very true to what was going on in 1986. 

But the thing that Stranger Things has done very well is to take elements from both 1980s horror films and 1980s culture and represent it in a very fun and original way. Which is a big reason WHY the show has been a big hit for both people born in the 1980s as well as people who might not remember that decade but have an appreciation for that.

In this episode, Bret and Andrew discuss their memories of 1986 and how this season compares to what they remember that year being like.

Get out your walkman and put in your Kate Bush and Metallica mix tape. Because we’re not just going for a walk down memory lane… we’re running up that hill!!

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