With Season Two of the Netflix TV show “Stranger Things” premiering today, it’s the perfect time to discuss the nostalgic feeling of the show, or lack thereof, for post millennials like myself. The show is set in the 1980s which for many viewers makes for a very sentimental viewing experience. However, as someone who did not live during this time period, the show doesn’t have that same nostalgic feel. Sorry, but we just don’t relate to it.
The majority of viewers of Stranger Things are either adults or teenagers. Nearly all critics praise Stranger Things for its creative plot and captivating interaction between its characters. However, before it exploded into a top hit many adults chose to watch the show, which is about young children fighting against evil in their hometown, because it is based in the 1980s, a time when many of these adults were only children. The show, being set in a realistic portrait of a 1980s town, brings a sense of nostalgia to the these viewers. Stranger Things reminds them of the types of problems they faced during their youth. It represents a time when the viewers biggest concerns were fitting in with their peers, peer pressure to do activities outside their comfort zone, and of course to succeed at school. The show reflects on how young children in the 1980s spent a lot of time on their own out in their communities without much parental supervision. Communities were believed to be safe places for children to hang out in on their own, unlike today where many communities are thought to be dangerous for young persons with threats like hardcore drugs and predators. They spent time riding their bikes and playing with friends but due to little or no personal technology existence they used more of their imaginations to think of things such as monsters and scary events. It shows a contrast to today’s children’s activities where more often they are using personal computers, iPads, cell phones, and other devices to play games or interact over the internet with other people. The types of memories for those children of the 1980s and those of today are similar yet very different at the same time. Many post-millennials have had a different reality as we have grown up our entire childhood spending hours playing with technology like iPads and social media such as Instagram and Snapchat and had less time on our own out in our neighbourhoods.
When people from my generation view shows like Stranger Things, we don’t necessarily have feelings of nostalgia, but rather feelings of curiosity. We are intrigued by the events shown on these throwback shows. We’ve heard stories from family and friends about their childhood during this same time period and the program gives us insight into the era of their youth. I’m especially interested in the smaller details of Strangers Things such as the fashions of the time like baggy acid-washed jeans and jackets, and big slouchy purses. I’m also interested in how the kids would interact with each other without cellphones. I even find the difference between their small town setting and large cities like Vancouver and Toronto to be extremely fascinating. This is interesting because the children are shown with much more personal freedom to play and be on their own compared to now. For example, in the show the children are constantly biking around their neighbourhood and town without their parents worrying too much. Today, cities seem to be too large and dangerous (at least on the news and in our parents’ imaginations) for this to happen on a regular basis for children.
Strangers Things also gives me a feeling of envy. These kids live without the pressures of social media to impress even those they do not know personally and to appear as perfect as possible. In my opinion social media shows only one side of real life, mostly designed to give a very idealized impression of how people look and how they are spending their time. In the 1980s, there were less of these unrealistic standards for individuals and what they were doing. People were forced to really get to know one another and people became friends because of authentic common interests and not just for the images that they had seen somewhere. I am not saying that there are no true friendships today because there are many, but I’ve always been jealous of the lives of earlier generations, such as those from the 1980s, when there were less pressures to show what one was doing, and more time spent building relationships and friendships.
While, as a post millennial, I don’t have strong nostalgic feelings towards Stranger Things, but the setting of the show still creates a strong emotional response. The way life was lived then seems to be much simpler, and I wish the less competitive atmosphere of the 1980s was present today.
Photos: Netflix / Stranger Thing