I loved “Stranger Things,” this summer’s sleeper Netflix hit. I loved the 80s nostalgia, loved the mystery and horror, loved the endearingly realistic pre-teen and teen characters. I especially loved Eleven. The bald, fragile-looking 12 year old who is actually the most badass character on the show. How can I not love Eleven?
(Also Barb. Poor Barb.)
And now, we know there will be a season 2! (Yay!) But season 1 left me with a lot of questions. I’ve seen some of these questions discussed in great depth in various online forums, but others…not so much. So for this blog entry, I’m ignoring the obvious questions (Is Eleven Alive? Is Hopper in league with the Department of Energy folks?) and focusing on the ones I haven’t heard too many people talking about.
1) If Eleven is the 11th super-powered child, where are One through Ten?
Are they dead or alive? Are they still at the DOE facility? Are they off fighting the Russians? Are their powers as strong as Eleven’s? Could they be even stronger? Seriously, how is no one talking about this?
2) Is it weird to ‘ship a romance between two 12 year olds when you’re a grown-ass adult?
Because I do. I completely do. The budding, innocent romance between Mike and Eleven was one of my favorite things about the show. (The moment where Mike assures Eleven that she’s still pretty even after she’s lost her wig melts my heart.) I just want Mike and Eleven to go to the Snow Ball together. If Eleven can go through the night without snapping the arms of all the mouth-breathers, it will be a success.
3) Why doesn’t anyone ever offer Eleven a tissue?
I could attribute this to the fact that her best friends are 12-year-old boys, and they probably wipe their noses on their sleeves/pants/the dirt/whatever happens to be convenient, but c’mon! There must have been a little old lady in Hawkins somewhere who would have taught Eleven to stuff a few into the sleeve of Nancy’s dress.
4) Does Eleven have a connection to Chief Hopper’s deceased daughter?
We see flashbacks of Chief Hopper’s daughter in the final episode when she’s dying of cancer. She’s bald from chemo. Eleven has a shaved head. Could be a coincidence. Or maybe not. Also, Hopper seems to be leaving “presents” for Eleven in the woods–Eggo Waffles, mostly. Could this have something to do with whatever deal he made with the Department of Energy folks to get him and Joyce released from custody? Or is it more personal?
5) Were 80s parents really this negligent?
In 2016, our helicopter-parent inclinations get a lot of shit, but if this show’s parents are actually representative of what parenting was like in the 1980s, I can see why we went in the other direction.
Sadly, I think I had that shirt in high school. Hell, I think I might still have that shirt now.
When Barb disappears, Nancy has the following conversation with Barb’s mom:
NANCY: Have you seen Barb today?
BARB’S MOM [sounding worried]: No, I thought she was with you!
NANCY: Uh, oh yeah. I think she’s, uh…at the library.
BARB’S MOM: Oh, okay! [Blithely goes about her day.]
Then when the Hawkins PD (more on them later) conclude that Barb’s run away from home, we hear not word one from Barb’s family. I guess it was no big deal for your teenager to disappear without a trace in the pre-Amber Alert era. I mean, she can take care of herself, right? She’s almost graduated from high school. Never mind that she’s busy being eaten by a monster slug from the inside out.
But maybe Barb’s family was just crappy, right? Except Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler, the picture of nuclear family perfection, are so oblivious that they fail to notice that their teenage daughter has snuck two different boys into her bedroom in one week, and that their pre-teen son has a girl living in their basement. (And it’s not like Mike tries very hard to hide her. At least Elliot made the effort to keep E.T. in the closet!)
Joyce Byers is obviously a devoted mom, clinging to her sureness that her younger son is alive when everyone else thinks she’s crazy. But she’s so busy chopping holes into her walls and talking to Christmas lights that she fails to notice her older son has been stockpiling ammo and bear traps.
With parents like that, it’s a wonder any of us survived to adulthood.
6) How the hell are the Hawkins PD’s deputies still employed?
Because they must be the most moronic, incompetent—not to mention insensitive—police officers of all time. Seriously.
First, a 12-year-old kid disappears, and they act like it’s no big deal. Whatever. He’s probably around here somewhere. Maybe he ran away? Could he be hiding somewhere? Is he with his deadbeat dad? Anyway, he’ll turn up eventually. Probably.
But even after Chief Hopper realizes that this isn’t just a case of childish mischief, his deputies continue to act like the douchiest of all the douches. (Describing a frantic mother with a missing child as “crazy” is just not cool, and also kind of sexist.)
And then, there was their reaction to Barb’s disappearance. After literally no investigation at all, they conclude that she’s run away. Yes, because socially awkward teenagers with big glasses and mom jeans run away all the time. As a former socially awkward teenager with big glasses and mom jeans, I can tell you that we were way more likely to be doing extra homework or hanging out at the library on a Saturday night than running away to parts unknown. I mean, c’mon…this is a girl who almost cut her hand off while trying to shotgun a beer. (Sidenote: That is also totally something that would happen to me.) Do you really think she just decided to ditch her car at the bus station and take off? Fifteen years after my high school graduation, I have yet to do anything that badass.
7) Did the cool, popular boys back in 1983 really have Steve’s hair?
Because seriously, it looks like a Flock of Seagulls reject had a baby with an Elvis impersonator. Just how much mousse does it take to get it looking like that every morning, Steve? How many hours do you spend with your hair dryer? Makes me kind of glad I was still in diapers in 83.
8) Why did the monster kill Barb, but spare Will Byers?
Because seriously, it’s not like hiding in his clubhouse amounted to some mad survival skills on Will’s part. Of course, given that bloody slug Will puked up into the sink during Thanksgiving dinner, maybe he didn’t survive after all…