With summer drawing to a close, I find myself contemplating how the meaning of “summer” has evolved throughout my life. As an adult, summer means vacation, renewed gratitude for Texas-proof air conditioning, and drinking copious amounts of rosé poolside. As a teenager, summer was consumed with plans to drop the ten pounds that held me back from being irresistible, scrape together spending money, and secure a sensitive-but-jocky boyfriend. As a kid, summer was dominated by summer sports camps, vacation bible schools (blergh), and babysitting gigs. Whatever my plans, summer means watching tons of TV shows and movies, which prevent me from getting too bored and getting into too much trouble.

As a kid, I watched so many movies. Everything from old black and white classics to mediocre romcoms to trashy teen slashers. I especially adored those adventure movies of the 80s, the iconic films where a group of scrappy latchkey kids, preteens like I used to be, face a fantastic and dangerous challenge. Just like with the enticing and taboo slashers where teenagers talked and acted like adults, so too did those 80s movies suck me into dream worlds where kids answered the frightening and tempting call of adventure. The threat of injury and death were always very real. The threat lingered constantly, and the vicarious possibility of being the casualty, of never making it back home, of becoming stuck in the nightmare world, was all too compelling.

Those stories have always spoken to me as well as an untold number of my contemporaries. This is the reason why Stranger Things, fueled by what critics merely assume to be nostalgia, enjoys immense popularity.

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