*Author’s Note: this article contains spoilers!
If you haven’t seen “Stranger Things” yet, I passionately recommend watching it.
It’s brilliantly written, emotionally engaging, and absolutely captivating. At first, when I saw a bunch of children in the first episode of the first season, I thought it was going to be one of the children’s movies/TV series meant for kids to have fun watching.
Oh, hell was I wrong!
Besides the gory fights, triggering scenes, and dark turn of events, “Stranger Things” handles themes that all of us can relate to.
I will not go into the details of summarizing the show for you, but what I can tell you is that Season 4 is my favorite so far. I mean I do have a soft spot for the macabre in the arts, but what I was able to absorb in this season was far beyond the main plot.
Well, here are three lessons that I learned while watching it, through the tears, laughter, and suspense:
1. Our bad memories and experiences do not define us.
The main villain in this season (and what turns out to be all of the seasons) is Vecna. Vecna is a sentient creature (who was originally a human and sent by the protagonist long ago to the Upside Down—which is some sort of hell in our understanding). He uses his power to see the memories of his victims and feed on their trauma and guilt. He psychologically tortures them, making them see their bad memories in the most horrific way, until he finally murders them and imprisons them in his own world to show that he is proud of his own murders.
As Vecna follows one of his victims in this season, Max Mayfield, she fights him off by summoning her good memories—that of friends, family, having a good time, and feeling gratitude for what she has.
And eventually, she faces her own hidden feelings and brings them out into the open, no longer afraid of her thoughts or being herself. And eventually, she writes letters to all the people in her life who are important to her and comes clean about her feelings.
While summoning the good memories and facing her fears, she makes it easier for her superhero friend and protagonist of the show, Eleven, to fight Vecna and weaken him.
This brings to light how much we sometimes run from our fears and bad memories because we are afraid to be defined by them. But are they all that we are?
We are way more than our trauma. We are way more than our bad memories. We are way more than our shameful feelings.
Representing ourselves as a mold of horrible experiences and memories is unfair to the wonderful light of our being. It is unfair to the “soldier” part of our personality and past.
We are more than our bad memories.
2. There’s always a choice.
The main character, Eleven, was raised since she was a newborn by Dr. Martin Brenner, who conducts research on supernatural kids in Hawkins National Laboratory. He experiments on her and raises her as if he were her parental figure. But, eventually, Eleven escapes.
She’s always called him “Papa,” but by Season 4, she realizes how much this man has harmed her, even though he thought he was doing her a favor, and his actions were done out of goodwill. For years, Eleven keeps believing him and believing that he truly cares for her, but when he kidnaps her in this season, she finally decides to make her own choice—doing what’s right.
She breaks out of the laboratory, where he was keeping her prisoner, and helps her friends fight the monster.
No matter in which situation we are in life, we always have a choice. It may be a difficult one, but we have to weigh our options, and whatever it is that’s for our advantage and the ones we care about (as long as it comes out of kindness), we can make that choice.
3. We shouldn’t be afraid to be who we truly are.
I think for those who have seen the show, we all fell in love with Eddie Munson. Eddie is a controversial student at Hawkins’ school, a metalhead, and the leader of a club (Hellfire club) that is soon hunted (in the show) for being mistaken for a cult.
Eddie struggles to be accepted by those who do not understand his personality, but those who get to know him love him dearly and embrace his eccentric personality. He is never afraid to show his true colors, even as he is criticized for it.
Toward the end of the season, Eddie reaches a moment where he shows the fans of the show and his own friends how good at heart he is.
Embracing our personality and being unapologetic for not conforming to society’s standards requires a lot of courage. Are we already doing that? Or do we try to change ourselves just to fit in?
It may be difficult what with the internet’s obsession with controlling our thoughts and lives, but it is not impossible.
As I said in the previous point, there is always a choice.
And the choice here is to be ourselves, unapologetically.
Here are the trailers for the first and second volume of Season 4: