Stranger Things is back, and countless fans have already binged through the stirring second season of everyone’s favorite eerie show. But a few dedicated superfan sleuths have been picking apart the show frame by frame to uncover the nuanced mysteries of Hawkins, Indiana, and their findings will change the way you watch Stranger Things.
It all started when I noticed that many of the automotive vehicles on Stranger Things date back to the 1980s. This isn’t inherently strange — many people, in both real life and the movies still drive old cars — but almost all the vehicles in Stranger Things were either manufactured in the 1980s or late 70s. Sure, it’s possible that the residents of Hawkins are simply retro car enthusiasts, but isn’t it a little peculiar that all of those vintage vehicles are in pristine condition?
The Duffer Brothers are clearly trying to suggest something about the context of the show.
Then there’s the technology — or lack thereof. The kids use old-fashioned Walkie-Talkies to communicate, hearkening back to a simpler time before ubiquitous cell phone coverage. They also hangout at a local video game arcade, a rare sight in this day and age of high-end game consoles. But if you pay attention to the meticulous set-dressing, you’ll also notice that no one on the show even owns a cell phone. They all use landlines. See any laptops? Nope.
It’s as if Stranger Things might take place at a different time than the present. As many have pointed out, a lot of these anachronisms are simply because the show takes place in the Midwest. Fair enough — but there’s more.
Every single television featured on Stranger Things is a low-definition cathode ray tube, which were popular before HD LCD or plasma televisions became affordable. They also rely heavily on over-the-air antenna systems in lieu of cable or streaming services. Peculiar.
Yeah, you might see where this is going. After cataloging hundreds of specific details, I’m pretty sure that I’ve figured out the secret of Stranger Things:
It takes place in the 1980s.
It sounds a little bit crazy, but there’s a silver bullet to this theory — and it’s a vintage bullet. In episode 5 of the second season, notably directed by Pixar’s Andrew Stanton, I noticed this:
That’s a lawn sign advocating for the election of Ronald Reagan. Yeah, that Ronald Reagan.
The dead guy.
The sign even says “84” on it, referring to the year 1984.
Sure, it’s possible that whoever manicured that lawn is simply a vintage sign enthusiast, but I think the simplest solution is the most likely: Stranger Things is a period show that takes place at a specific time, and that time is not the present. It’s the 1980s.
But don’t take my word for it. Next time you tune in to see what our favorite D&D troupe is up to, pay attention to all the little details, like the way the characters dress, their hairstyles, and even the music choices on the show. You might just notice that it’s all… not quite contemporary. Once you realize the show takes place in the 80s, you’ll begin to see subtle references to the time period everywhere.
It may seem a little peculiar to set the show over 30 years ago, but in this day and age… I’ve seen stranger things.
Ed note: I’m joking, maybe you didn’t get that I’m just kidding. Wow!