Strange Questions about “Stranger Things”

Best of 2016, Nostalgia, Television

Now that most of the internet chatter discussing theories and motifs and other such complexities about Netflix’s “Stranger Things” has died down, it’s my time to throw my hat into the ring about the show’s clearly constructed mythology.

While most forays into the alluring cinematic power of “Stranger Things” focus on its obvious homage to the 80’s, there have only been a few true articles on the show’s deliberate narrative vagueness.  This is what I find most interesting and innovative about the series – unlike its counterparts, it doesn’t neatly tie up every plot point into a nice package that the reader is bound to understand. While there are some semblances of closure to the show’s main narratives, there are still boundless, tangential questions that linger. This is what I would like to focus on. I’ve got a few questions, too, and it’s the speculation as to their potential answers that I think  is most fascinating.

The Christmas Lights

For those reading this, I’m trusting you’ve watched the show in its entirety. If you haven’t, then there are major spoilers, obviously. The show’s main focus is on finding Will Byers, the child who goes missing right in Episode 1. Until, and after, his alleged body is found a few episodes in, the boy communicates with his manic mother Joyce (played by a sensationally emotionally crazed Winona Ryder) via the flashing of christmas lights that Joyce has hung all around her home.


This  ‘communication’ via the blues, reds and whites of the lights is conversational while silent. Even when her son’s alleged body is found, Joyce refuses to believe that her son is dead and so continues to communicate with him with these flashing lights. So, to this I raise my first question. What do the lights mean? Why is it via this strange channel does Will attempt to communicate with his mother from the parallel universe that he is stuck within?

Judging by the meticulous plotting of the entire series, I doubt that the decision of communicating through lights was an arbitrary decision by the shows creators. Yes, the lights and its colors clearly reside within the 80’s era that the show embraces, but I think there’s more to it than that.

The Toy

In some of the show’s particularly moving scenes near the end of the season, we learn how Chief Jim Hopper’s daughter had died of cancer some years ago. Whilst attempting to help Joyce find Will in the ‘Upside Down’ parallel universe in episode 8, Jim finds a toy that his daughter was clutching when she passed away. Not only was this scene extremely emotional, it also upended the tone of episode. Why was this toy in the ‘upside down’? Is this where his daughter now lives? Is his daughter Eleven (El)?

Karen Wheeler

I found Karen Wheeler, Nancy and Mike’s mom, to be a very mysterious character. She’s given more screen time than the other supporting roles, implying that her role carries more weight than it appears to be. She’s shown reaching out, trying to communicate with her children several times throughout the series, her attempts shut down by her children’s lies when they say they’re ‘ok’. We all know they aren’t.


A Mother’s Knowing Expression

So I ask why is Karen so seemingly prevalent in the show? Is she just a representation of a concerned parent in a small town, or is she somehow more closely entwined with some of the show’s larger narrative constructs, most notably, the mysterious El? For a character who runs a tight household, it seems odd that she didn’t discover a girl living in her basement. Don’t you?

Just a few of my thoughts. Weigh in with your opinions – I’d love to hear them. And if you haven’t seen the show, please do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s pretty awesome.


A Look at “Glass” By Kate Kort

Book Reviews

Tense, honest, true – all words that can describe Kate Kort’s novel “Glass”. Kort does not shy away from depicting mental illness in its most realistic representations. Despite the leaps and bounds that modern medicine has made with the spectrum of known mental illnesses, it is still regarded as a taboo topic to talk about. With Hollywood’s sanitized representations of the various types of mental illness, including popular fiction and other media, Kort’s “Glass” is a welcome wake-up call.


Nobody Wants to Date You Because You’re a Dog! A Dog!

Film, It Makes Me Feel Better

It just struck me earlier this evening that I have not posted anything about my guiltiest of all guilty pleasure in the universe of guilt….Teen Witch!

Please tell me you’ve seen it. If you haven’t, I’m sure you can find it on YouTube or whatever fine viewing sites one uses these days.

It’s the perfect story of girl likes boy, girl finds out she’s a witch and puts a spell to make boy like her, and girl finds out true love is better than what magic can cast. No – It’s not a spoiler. It’s a fantastic film with annoying little brothers, nerdy best friends, very blonde popular girls, and the amazing Zelda Rubenstein as a psychic.

And meet the newest phrase that will be introduced to your vocabulary starting right now –  Top That!

But the best part? The soundtrack. I guarantee you that you will have “Never Gonna Be The Same Again” in your head for months. It’s the movie that keeps on giving…

Fool’s Gold

Book Reviews, Rave!

Ah, 1986; the year of Chernobyl, the birth of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and another average year in terms of hopes and dreams in New York City. Using 1986 as the setting for his hilarious and touching “A Fool Among Fools,” John Terracuso cleverly uses the readers fondness for the past to tell a story that is like a brilliant mash-up of a great 80’s tv show sprinkled with all the good parts of a Jennifer Aniston movie.

Michel Gregoretti, “Fools” driving narrative force, finds himself coping with the grind of being a copywriter at some nameless, mammoth New York ad agency where Don Draper would not be entirely out-of-place scouting the pretty new things loitering in the lobby. Underpaid and immensely talented at his craft, Michael churns out terrible commercial after terrible commercial for a new novelty product. In hopes of changing his current rut, Michael accepts a new assignment that will get him a better paying, more respectable position. With this new assignment comes the introduction of the utterly evil Gwen Hammond, a villainess, and Craig Connolly, a love interest for Michael who isn’t without his own flaws.

A Fool Among Fools