MB writes: “I have not seen the massively popular Stranger Things but I’ve heard that it’s quite ‘creepy’. I also know that they’ve put out a Stranger Things ouija board which makes me wonder if there’s anything demonic or problematic with the show itself? Lots of friends have recommended it but they’ve also talked about Harry Potter before so I’m hoping to get a clearer answer on whether watching the show is problematic. Thank you in advance.”
The Stranger Things TV show is indeed problematic on a variety of levels.
For those who have never heard of it, Stranger Things is a recent Netflix sci-fi/horror hit starring Winona Ryder that is based in the fictional Indiana town of Hawkins in the early 1980’s. Hawkins is the home of the Hawkins National Laboratory which performs scientific research for the government. However, the disappearance of a young boy named Will leads the town to discover that the lab is also involved in paranormal and supernatural experiments. These activities lead to the creation of a portal to an alternate dimension called “the Upside Down” which is full of surreal monsters.
Meanwhile, a little girl arrives on the scene at the local diner, dressed in a hospital gown and with a shaved head. Her name is Eleven and she has all kinds of otherworldly powers such as clairvoyance and the ability to move objects with her mind. She was apparently used in experiments at the lab and managed to escape. Eleven, who claims to know where Will is, and is able to communicate with him, is then employed in the plot to find the boy.
There are a variety of disturbing themes running through the show, such as references to a “stronger power,” Eleven’s use of her powers to kill people, premarital sex between the characters, shoplifting, profaning the name of Jesus, and a variety of illicit escapades.
Focus on the Family’s Plugged In, says that although the series does give us a new set of heroic tweens and teens, these kids are also prone to “swear like testosterone-deficient sailors.” They also play Dungeons & Dragons which is sure to set off alarms with parents due to the game’s darker elements. And even though the children are against alcohol and tobacco, the adults in the move indulge with great abandonment.
“When the scene shifts to the high-school set, sex (or the heady, fearful promise of it) never seems far away,” the review states.
The violence is also a factor. “Even though the violence hasn’t been particularly bloody, death is not uncommon. The monsters, and many of the men, are out for blood. And they’re not above spattering a bit of it across the screen.”
As for the games spawned by the show, they do have a new Stranger Things Ouija board which youth are gleefully using to ask the “spirits” to reveal the contents of upcoming shows.
In this article appearing on Buzzfeed (caution: obscene language) three teens – including one who says he never plays with the board because he’s Catholic – ask the board a series of questions about upcoming shows. The first question they asked was whether or not there was a spirit in the room, which received a “yes” answer. The three then ask it a series of questions about the upcoming shows, which characters are going to “hook up” and which are going to die.
The show also has it’s own themed Monopoly board game as well as an Eggo Card game.
All in all, Stranger Things is the typical non-family-friendly fare.
I would not categorize this show and its alarming by-products as healthy for anyone, regardless of age.