Why 'Stranger Things' Actually Allows You to Be a Kid
And I'm not talking about as an adult watching arguably the coolest throwback to horror on Netflix TV.
Bear with me on this, because a lot of people will scoff at what I'm going to say: that breakout hit many of you might have already seen of season 2, Stranger Things (and if you don't have a Netflix account, get one), isn't just for adults who were once kids back in the day when watching films like E.T., Ghostbusters, Monster Squad, The Goonies, and much more.
Absolutely not. I'd Wager to say that Stranger Things even applies to kids today!
For good reason, too. Think about it. How old were we when we watched the fun, cool, campy, cute, cheesy, and a bit hard-edged kid horror movie? Probably the same age as those kids on the silver screen. And back then we never had any issues with them waxing cuss words, getting violent with monsters, aliens, government agents, demons, or fairies.
In fact.... We identified with them.
We don't see that kind of horror film anymore, honestly. Or horror TV show. And the fact is when you look at the overall theme of Stranger Things, you know that while there is a healthy smattering of bad language to boot and some fierce content of the scary kind, overall you have to agree: it's really not that inappropriate at all.
Stranger Things treads the fine line quite well. Just about anybody can watch it without freaking out too much... But just enough that you enjoy the thrill.
You can be a "big kid" remembering the day when watching Stand By Me or the TV movie IT was so cool that you just wanted to kill clowns or bullies. Or you're a big Netflix buff in high school or grade school just hearing about the rage that is Stranger Things, practically opening the scary door to some of the golden age that made television, film, and books so much fun before you were born.
Ultimately, Stranger Things has always been about KIDS.
So it truly makes sense that, well, kids will love it, too! And we know we might have our dissenters of that, believing the show might tip the scale a bit much. We get it. But there's a big difference between being gratuitous with gore, blood, darkness, scares and other crazy stuff that'll curdle a kid's hemoglobin—and content that actually makes sense within the theme of the story.
After all, Stranger Things is set back in the day. Through the eyes and perspective of kids. The reason why it works is because it worked before. No one seemed to have a problem with it, because within the story it made perfect sense. You can't ignore the logic.
A kid will honestly spout obscenities if chased by vampires for good reason. You might even have a grade-school kid with a bow and arrow using it for violence (but for good reason, I mean, come on, those vampires won't stop coming). You have to remember: they're stories. And there's a point to them.
Many might actually argue that such content would damage the minds and emotions of our kids—and have done such damage for years.... Okay, if you happen to be an adult reading this, and I know you may have seen one or two of the classics out there, ask yourself that important question: are you so damaged?
You can see that fine line, and it never gets crossed. Watch Monster Squad; then right afterward, check out Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula and tell me if you see a difference between both versions of the Transylvanian lord of the night.
It's, well... like day and night.
The truth is Stranger Things could've crossed that line in much the same way.
But they didn't. It got close—but not quite, and that's where content likes this needs to be, to really resonate with a viewer who either identifies with this, or remembers the good ol' days when campy stuff like Stand By Me, Terminator, or Close Encounters of the Third Kind rattled us without causing serious mental issues. Just sayin'.
As a parent, you might want to remember that when your kid asks to stream Stranger Things.... Don't fret. Because back in the day, chances are you experienced, read, watched, and listened to probably much, much worse.
I bet you're not in therapy for it.