Exploring Nostalgia In Stranger Things

Everyone seems to love TV or movies that take place in a different time, but why is this? Perhaps it’s because we romanticize about times from long ago, where we can observe a different time and seemingly a different world.

In “Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture” by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green, they discuss nostalgic media and how “such material sparks the exchange of memories, especially personal and collective histories of reading, listening, and viewing”. This can certainly be the case with the popular Netflix show Stranger Things by the Duffer Brothers. Everyone young and old seems to love the subject matter of the show, including it’s setting in Hawkins Indiana in 1983. But just how accurately did this show capture the 80’s? This is what I aim to find out.

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To understand what the 80’s were like (and to talk to someone who has seen the entire stranger things post 2two seasons of Stranger Things), I interviewed my mother who graduated from high school in 1983. When asking how accurately Stranger Things depict the 80’s culture, she answered “Pretty accurate, except for the clothes. They seemed more from the 70’s than the 80’s. There was no neon! stranger things post 3Almost half of my wardrobe was brightly colored. In this show, everyone seems to be wearing muted colors. But maybe that was a regional thing because I lived on the east coast and this show takes place in Indiana”.

She continued by stating that “the 80’s were a very conservative time compared to the free spirited time period of the 70’s. This show depicts that well especially through the adults on the show. Parents back then were not as involved as they are now. I think about Ted, Mike’s father, and can draw parallels with my own parents. My parents were not super involved in my life. They never helped with homework, never asked me where I was going and with who, I don’t think they everstranger things post 4 even came to see me cheer. So when kids your age ask ‘where the hell are there parents’, they just don’t understand that this is what parenting was like back then.”

My mother concluded with the representation of 80’s youth, stating that ” I can remember driving around with my friend Laurie, searching for parties. They were typically at someone’s house when their parents were away. My brothers were big into going to the movies and the arcades like they were on the show. I could definitely stranger things post 6.jpgidentify with Nancy on the show. Nancy was just like me when I was in high school, even down to how she wore her hair! Like Nancy, I never wanted to become like my parents, and I did a lot of partying to try and prove that I wasn’t like them. Eventually, you come to terms with growing up and becoming an adult. I think the show does an excellent job at depicting the 80’s”stranger things post 5

It’s no wonder why people young and old love this show. I, like many other people my age, had a blast watching this because it reminded me of my parents and gave me a glimpse as to what growing up was like for them. We all like to fantasize what a different time period would be like and shows like Stranger Things give us an accurate representation of what it was like back then. Well, minus the Demogorgon’s, but we’ll let that one slide…

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3 comments

  1. I loved hearing the interview from your mother and hearing how she thought it depicted the 80s. You can tell the attention she paid in the show from her details on how the clothes were more 70s and flushed of color. This was a great read and I wonder what other adults that grew up in the 80s would think of this show.

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  2. This is a great piece! From the second I saw the title I knew I was going to be interested because Stranger Things is my favorite show I’ve ever seen on Netflix. I love how you talked about different time periods. When I was watching this all I could think about was how could it would be to live in the 80’s. It seemed like such a cool time.

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