I’ve just had one of the most surreal experiences of my adult life.
I just finished the Netflix series Stranger Things. It’s a sci-fi show set in the early 1980s in the style of 80s movies, heavy on stuff like old school Steven Spielberg and Stephen King.
As a guy who grew up in the 80s, I can attest that the show was hugely accurate. I mean scary accurate. Down to the yellow pee-chees, poofy hair, stupid striped shirts, brown half-brick houses, and 80s specific conversational topics about things like CB radios and the Russians. It was amazing.
The surreal part for me was that the show was about four boys in 1983 who were the exact same age I was in 1983. These guys were about 11 years old. I was born in 1972. In 1983 I was…11 years old.
So I’m sitting there, watching four 11 year-old boys live in the same world I lived in and doing the same exact things I did. Playing Dungeons and Dragons. Having nerd arguments. Riding banana-seat bikes around the neighborhood. Talking on walkie talkies. Always being just a little scared about getting nuked by the Soviets. Getting excited that you might get an Atari for Christmas.
Amazingly, I was literally watching a TV show about my childhood, down to the minute detail (sci-fi elements excluded of course). The lead kid even looked just like me and had my exact same hairstyle back then. He’s the kid second from the left in the above picture. In 1983, that was me. I’m serious. They might as well have called this show…
I also have a very good long-term memory. (My short-term memory is horrible.) I remember 1983 like it was yesterday. When I saw the girl on the show who had a Trapper Keeper, I clearly remember how excited I was to get mine and set it all up. When I saw the kids talk about Demogorgon, I clearly remember playing with Demogorgon in my own adventures. When the kids get excited about a new high-powered HAM radio set, I remember being just as excited when I saw my first one too.
It was just…wonderful and very weird at the same time. I don’t have words to describe it. 1983 was so much fun, and watching this show was the closest thing to taking a time machine to visit my life back then.
I’m not going to review Stranger Things here. It’s a good show, only eight episodes, and I recommend it. It’s just that if you’re not my age, you won’t appreciate it as much as I did.
The odds of someone making an entire TV show, and a very good one everyone loves, about kids in a past era who were the exact same age you were in that exact same year, is pretty damn low. I consider it a wonderful gift. My sincere thanks to the Duffer Brothers (the producers of this show). You put a bigger smile on my already smiling face.