Stranger Things Was A Strange Experience For Me

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.

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  • J
    Posted at 06:00 pm, 19th September 2016

    Do you think you were happier then or now?

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 07:08 pm, 19th September 2016

    Now, by far.

    I was happy as a kid but my life as an adult is happy x100. I still have days where I can’t believe how good my life is, like I’m going to wake up from a happy dream all of a sudden.

  • Gil Galad
    Posted at 03:07 am, 20th September 2016

    I think it’s Stephen King (not with a v), though it’s pronounced the same as Stephen Hawking, which used to confuse me. I used to pronounce it Steff-en, and was disappointed when I heard it was wrong.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 10:46 am, 20th September 2016

    Thanks! Corrected!

  • Eldm
    Posted at 04:16 pm, 20th September 2016

    Note the big bad government undertone

  • Paul Murray
    Posted at 07:43 pm, 20th September 2016

    Holy balls! You guys went up against Demogorgon? I’m playing Paizo’s “Wrath of the Righteous” at the moment: we have just made it to The Abyss. No WoTC copyrighted characters, of course, but that only means they have to come up with something new.

    Yeah, I’m 50 and playing D&D. Sue me 🙂

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 10:00 pm, 20th September 2016

    Note the big bad government undertone

    Yep! Back in the 80s, it was okay, even preferred, to show the American government as the bad guy.

    Yeah, I’m 50 and playing D&D.

    I’m 44 and I haven’t played it in many years, but totally would if I had more time. (Both of my kids keep asking me.)

  • Tim
    Posted at 09:36 am, 22nd September 2016

    Watching Stranger Things was sort of like watching Jessica Jones all over again. It’s a show that I went into thinking I wouldn’t like it for a variety of reasons, but gave a shot because of all the good reviews from people who share my tastes in media, and it didn’t disappoint. At 23, I may not be their target demographic, but it was still awesome!

    Posted at 08:02 pm, 25th September 2016

    I’m 43. I feel that way when I watch movies actually made in the 80s like Back to the Future or Terminator because I saw them 1st run in the theater. Then theres’ the other ones, like Donnie Darko, that were made later, but because they were made by people who grew up then, they can completely immerse you in that time period if you yourself also grew up then because you just ‘get it’. I talked about this on IMDB but the major users there seem to skew younger & not many people got what I meant. I also noticed that even if you are the right age, your life experiance might not match mine & you still won’t get it. In a case like Donnie Darko, my teenage years looked a lot like his. White, suburban, & middle class so something like that really made me feel like I was back there for an hour & half. Really strange effect that it has when you feel that way. It really made me wish I could climb in the Delorian & go see mom & dad one more time & hang out with my old friends I never see anymore. Times were so simple then compared to life now. 1985- take me back…

  • Throughfare
    Posted at 06:26 am, 6th April 2018

    Hey Caleb,

    If you would like to see another TV series about the ’80s that is uncannily accurate, and true to its time, Deutschland 83 is a series out of Germany that is like entering a past world.

    I know it isn’t your ’80s world. You would have to have been in Europe in the 1980s to appreciate all the subtleties, but it was my world, and the level of detail is amazing, right down to how people’s houses were decorated in East Germany and West Germany, even the Ossie vs. Wessie ways of thinking, and the way Martin is such a fish out of water when he first goes west, but slowly learns how to imitate- and the scene where he gets his first Walkman any kid from the ’80s can relate to. One of the greatest thing is how the actors playing Americans talk exactly like English people speaking German, they make the same mistakes English people usually do when speaking German.

    What’s neat about the series to my mind too is, they way you don’t have melodramatic “good guys” and “evil guys.” Everybody is trying to make their way through the world in the best way they know how, and with the limited information they have, especially during the infamous Broken Arrow incident, and it feels like you’re looking inside for real.

    And who couldn’t love their theme song, Nena’s 1983 megahit: 99 Luftballons

    It seems it’s out with English subtitles now, on Amazon streaming, and “on video” 🙂


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