A few days ago, my wife and I joined some friends for a gathering during a few rare hours when we weren’t busy hauling a teenager to some kind of expensive activity or hosting an entire herd of them at our home to ransack our pantry and abuse the plumbing. The highlight of the get-together was watching the final episode of “Stranger Things,” Season 4, Volume 1 on Netflix while snacking, catching up, snacking, reminiscing, snacking and snacking.
About a week before our friend gathering, my wife and I began the harrowing process of cleaning out the bedroom of our youngest of three teenage daughters to prepare for the delivery of new furniture – because she claimed she could no longer fit into her childhood bed without becoming a professional street contortionist (which doesn’t sound too bad to me). Throughout the ordeal, I couldn’t help drawing parallels between the “Stranger Things” universe and this bedroom reorganization project.
Now, I realize that some of you have better things to do than binge-watch original programming on an overpriced streaming service that is vying for the few dollars you have left after purchasing gasoline or a tube of ground beef at Walmart. So, let me summarize the basic plot of this tribute to 1980s sci-fi films called “Stranger Things.”
The series centers around a group of nerdy teenagers in the 1980s who discover another dimension of reality known as The Upside Down – a dark and foreboding place where adolescents age 18 and under are tormented by supernatural monsters (and I don’t mean their parents). The teens fight the monsters with the help of a friend who has escaped from an oppressive research facility (and I don’t mean high school) and possesses telekinetic powers, chronic nosebleeds and the ability to cry on command.
The first notable comparison is with the teenage main characters of the series, who, aside from a few paranormal murders, are all experiencing typical hormonal turmoil, parental conflicts and feelings of anxiety about leaving their childhoods behind. Our daughter’s recent angst has mainly revolved around deciding which items in her stockpile of toys and stuffed animals to get rid of and which to continue hoarding in her “new” room until layers of prehistoric dust render them unrecognizable.
After waiting a few days for her to meticulously pick through approximately one million Lego pieces, I finally issued the idle threat that if she didn’t finish sorting them soon, I would donate them all to the Ukrainian army to scatter around for the invading Russians to step on. I’m happy to say she made the mature decision just to keep all of the Legos, probably in hopes that I would leave her alone.
Next is the show’s supernatural dimension known as The Upside Down, which one of the teen characters describes as a “dark reflection or echo of our world . . . a place of decay and death . . . a place of monsters,” which brings me to our daughter’s bedroom.
In addition to the typical teenager debris consisting of a dozen half-full plastic water bottles (none of them on coasters), crumb-filled Goldfish cracker wrappers, some unidentifiable and partially-eaten foodstuffs, and an array of soiled clothing, the monster in question takes the form of Biscuit, her Maltese-mix doglet. Along with laying the occasional organic land mine, Biscuit has a bizarre penchant for nibbling multiple holes in designer bedding sets. My daughter’s room is truly a macabre place I’m often reluctant to enter, which is probably the way she prefers it.
There are other “Stranger Things” parallels I could draw involving the bumbling parents and the questionable hairstyles in the show, but suffice it to say that because our youngest daughter has two older sisters, this isn’t our first trip into the Upside Down of teenage interior design. I’m just glad our own series is ending with Season 3.
Copyright 2022 Jase Graves distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at [email protected].