I Once Lived in Hawkins, Indiana By BRADLEY J. BIRZER
Every once in a while, something utterly profound comes along, even in the wasteland that is TV culture. For those of us who came of age in the 1980s, there’s been no greater rush of nostalgia in recent years than that provided by Netflix’s delightful and ever-engaging eight-part series Stranger Things.
In almost every way, Stranger Things captures a brief slice of time perfectly, especially for those of us who attended junior high and high school during Reagan’s first term in the White House. The show takes place over just a few days, beginning November 6, 1983, in the mythical but all-too-real town of Hawkins, Indiana. It follows the heroic actions of four seventh-grade boys, a mysterious girl who arrives in town, some siblings and their friends and rivals, a divorced mom, and a broken sheriff. There’s also an ominous modern building, a Department of Energy complex, looming over the normally quiet Hoosier town. Surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards and adorned with neo-Stalinist architecture, the building stands out dramatically in the landscape of Hawkins, much like the dilapidated Bates house overlooks its accompanying motel in 1960’s Psycho.
Even the season of the show matters, as November 6 is a date situated in the twilight realm between Halloween and Thanksgiving. No longer colorful or attractive, the remaining leaves on the trees merely hang dead, shriveled and brown, awaiting execution from the inevitable first snowfall.