Uncovering Stranger Things

Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series


In stock (can be backordered)

Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist

About the Book

The Duffer Brothers’ award-winning Stranger Things exploded onto the pop culture scene in 2016. The Netflix original series revels in a nostalgic view of 1980s America while darkly portraying the cynical aspects of the period. This collection of 23 new essays explores how the show reduces, reuses and recycles ’80s pop culture—from the films of Spielberg, Carpenter and Hughes to punk and synthwave music to Dungeons & Dragons—and how it shapes our understanding of the decade through distorted memory. Contributors discuss gender and sexual orientation; the politics, psychology and educational policies of the day; and how the ultimate upper-class teen idol of the Reagan era became Stranger Things‘ middle-aged blue-collar heroine.

About the Author(s)

Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., is a professional actor and director whose previous books have covered topics ranging from Star Wars to Renaissance faires. He is a professor and chair of the theater department at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 262
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7186-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3364-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction: Stranger (Things) in a Strange Land or, I Love the ’80s? (Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.) 1

Section I: Popular Culture
The Rebirth of King’s Children (Ashley Jae Carranza) 8
Lost Nights and Dangerous Days: Unraveling the Relationship Between Stranger Things and Synthwave (Nicholas Diak) 20
Transmissions from the Upside Down: Post-Punk Sound Waves in Stranger Things (Jennifer Kirby) 29
Competing Nostalgia and Popular Culture: Mad Men and Stranger Things (Ryan Twomey) 39
Stranger Things and Our Memories of Colombian TV in the Late Eighties: Bringing Back Alf, V.I.C.I., Evie and Guri-Guri (Enrique ­Uribe-Jongbloed and Sergio ­Roncallo-Dow) 49
Monsters and Moral Panics: Dungeons & Dragons as Force of Good in Stranger Things (Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.) 60

Section II: Cinema
The ­Eaten-for-Breakfast Club: Teenage Nightmares in Stranger Things (Rose Butler) 72
Women as Stranger Things: Frankensteinian Exploitation and Weaponization of Female Bodies (Melissa A. Kaufler) 84
Not a Princess Anymore: How the Casting of Winona Ryder in Stranger Things Speaks to the Essential Falsehood of 1980s Media Depictions of the American Working Class (Lisa Morton) 93
Stranger (The) Thing: Echoes of John Carpenter in the Series (John Palisano) 103
Spielberg Things: The Nostalgic Heart of Stranger Things (Jacopo della Quercia) 112

Section III: Gender and Orientation Revisiting the Monstrous Feminine and Monster Parents in Stranger Things (Elsa M. Carruthers) 128
AIDS, Homophobia and the Monstrous Upside Down: The Queer Subtext of Stranger Things (Emily E. Roach) 135
The Monstrous Queer Child: Mobbing, Bullying and Bad Parenting in the 1980s (Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns, Canela Ailén Rodriguez Fontao and Mariana S. Zárate) 146
Gaslighting, Marginalization and the ­Well-Coiffed in Stranger Things (Rhonda Jackson Joseph) 156
Badass Mothers: Challenging Nostalgia (Brenda Boudreau) 164

Section IV: Society, Culture and Politics of the Eighties
Half-Lives of the Nuclear Family: Representations of the ­Mid-Century American Family in Stranger Things (Anthony David Franklin) 174
The Forgotten Rural: Bungling Police Officers and the Rise of Vigilantism in 1980’s Film, Culture and Stranger Things (Dustin Freeley) 183
“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”: Stranger Things and the ­In-Between (Christine Muller) 195
The Upside Down of Education Reform During the Reagan Era: A Re-Examination of Education Policies Through Stranger Things (Ludovic A. Sourdot) 205
“A nice home at the end of the ­cul-de-sac”: Hawkins as Infected Postmodern Suburbia (Lacey N. Smith) 215
The Nine Most Terrifying Words in the English Language (Scott Wartham) 225
The Strangest Thing About Stranger Things (Jimmy Butts) 235

About the Contributors 247
Index 251