Netflix just made my family's Halloween: They dropped the brand new season of Stranger Things today. My daughters (13 and 10) were huge fans of the quirky band of characters—especially cool telekinetic girl, Eleven, and bold badass heroine, Nancy, who helped save her brother's BFF from the Upside Down—even if she couldn't do the same for her own. (RIP, Barb!) If you haven't been watching the show, picture ET, Alien, and The Goonies, mixed in with a little Pretty in Pink. (And we even get a couple of old-school 80s icons in the show—Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine!)
But the big question for most parents: Can my kids watch? I haven't started the second season yet, but the first was definitely A-OK for my 13-year-old and 10-year-old. The scares can be a bit intense for younger kids (my 10-year-old watched a few scenes peeking through her hands), a few of the kids swear a bit, and there's a scene or two of teen lust (all no more risque than what you'd see on network TV these days).
To me, it was a perfect bit of 80s nostalgia to share with my kids—since I was right around the same age as Eleven, Will, and the rest of their pack when the events of the show took place. And I'm a big fan of the way they took some common 80s movie tropes and turned them on their head, especially when it comes to the female characters. In the 1980s movies, Nancy would have been a supporting character defined mostly by her relationship with jerky Steve (who would obviously have been played by James Spader back in the day). Surely, she would have needed rescuing at some point. But in Stranger Things, Nancy's the one doing the investigating, plotting and saving—all while making sure she studies for her science test. Go, Nancy!
They also cast breakout actor Gaten Matarazzo as the hilarious Dustin. Gaten has cleidocranial dysplasia, and the writers worked his special need into the show without making it a big plotline. (Like, it gets mentioned in one scene, and that's it. No big discussion, no "very special episode." And no one, other than the crappy school bully, treats Dustin any differently.)
In between the chills and thrills, there's a lot of good plot points and messages about friendship, bravery, bullying, popularity, and more. (Of course, there's also a whole lot of disobeying of parents and hiding things from them—which I liked in movies back in the 1980s, but I'm not as huge a fan of now that I'm the grownup.) Cue plenty of good conversations about the good—and the bad—behaviors on the show.
We'll be breaking out the Eggo waffles and the popcorn tonight as we catch up with Eleven, Nancy and the rest of the crew. Will you?