Welcome to the upside down. Just kidding. It’s just me. Mollie. I’m taking over this week, just like Stranger Things took over my Fourth of July. Did you guys have a great Fourth? I hope so. I used to get really into going to house parties/BBQs in Midtown, watching block party fireworks and drinking sangria while wearing the tackiest red, white and blue outfit I could scavenge from Walmart. But these days, I’d say I’m feeling a particular malaise toward the good ‘ol USA. I feel like Americans come with an asterisk now.
I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I just started watching a limited series on HBO called Years and Years, which is a British show depicting the anxieties and joys of a family over the span of 15 years, starting in 2019. I was immediately drawn into the Black Mirror sensibilities of this show (in fact, I spotted a few choice actors who starred in their own digitally upsetting Black Mirror episodes)—and then I quickly realized the villain of the show was not (solely) the future of a digital society, but rather, a tyrannical/moronic/sexist leader we all know so well.
Especially for his Twitter feed.
The United States strikes fear in the hearts of the British family when they send a missile over the ocean. I haven’t watched the next episode, but I’m guessing nothing good comes from that. Now, I don’t know about you, but watching a show where the reality and probability of disaster is a very likely scenario when your country is run by a raving lunatic is scarier than anything Stephen King could muster. (On a side note, you should follow Stephen King on Twitter; he is really good at political ribbing.) We’re all just having to sit around and brace for impact. And hope that the rest of the world knows that most of us can’t stand That Guy.
Remember when horror was ghosts, poltergeists and demons on a mission to steal your soul? Yeah, me too. Those were the days.
So it hit me like a wall of bricks the other day when I was trying to figure out why everyone is obsessed with Stranger Things. Aside from the fact that it is the epitome of ‘80s nostalgia, has a cast of characters that you wish you were when you were that age and an uncanny ability to make you want to buy Eggos—the bad guy in the show isn’t human. But it’s still less scary than reality. Isn’t it sad that true horror is plausible real life now?
So, while we all wait to get obliterated because our country is being run by a giant baby man with tiny fists, let’s talk about Stranger Things. (No spoilers, I promise.)
First of all, I am totally biased. My last name is the name of the town (Hawkins)—so you bet your Steve-and-Nancy-loving ass that I have purchased every T-shirt, coffee mug, sticker and random tchotchke depicting the name “Hawkins, Indiana.” I’m making up for all those personalized magnets and keychains I never got as a kid—because almost no one spells “Molly” with an “ie.” Yeah, I’m bitter, and I bet there are a few Ashlies, Brittanies and Tonies out there who feel me on this one. But Hawkins, Indiana, is a place I’d like to visit, given the chance. They have a cool mall. A lot of scientific breakthroughs. The people seem nice enough. Donald Trump doesn’t exist in any meaningful way. I’ll take a Demogorgon over that guy. Anybody with me?
**This piece first appeared in print on page 30 of issue #296 (July 17 – 31, 2019)**