‘Stranger Things’ brings a breath of fresh air in an issues-driven media

I logged on to Facebook this afternoon to find article after article lamenting the death of beloved actor Gene Wilder. My entire feed was packed with mourning and I found myself dragged into a tailspin of sensory overload from the media for what seemed like the thousandth time this summer.

In congruence with June’s horrific Orlando shooting and July’s terrorist attack in Nice, France, every media outlet, news show and social platform has become a dark space where one can easily find themselves struggling to absorb and process the violence and insanity.

Human beings can only put themselves in someone else’s shoes for so long before losing the ability to separate tragedy from day-to-day life.

I recently finished the latest installment of the glorious Netflix show “Stranger Things” and found myself realizing that this pattern of over-experiencing the world’s tragedies, issues and politics is true in television as well.

I thought about some other shows I enjoy, such as Freeform’s “The Fosters” and Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. A recent episode of “The Fosters” focused on a character who brought a gun to school and later proceeded to break into his girlfriend’s house, scaring her and her family half to death. The episode left me with high blood pressure.

Even Kimmy Schmidt, a lighthearted comedy, is forever revealing points, lessons, and biases.

“Stranger Things,” however, seems to be an outlier, untouched by our issue-driven reality.

“Stranger Things” never tries to make a point, teach me a lesson, push me down one political aisle or the other, or remind me of every world issue. Don’t get me wrong; I, like many millennials, consider myself something of a ‘social justice warrior.’ I strive to be educated, empathetic and compassionate when it comes to any widespread or serious issue.

Lately, however, I haven’t been able to take it all in at the rate in which it is given. There has to be a time and place where the ever-absorbent, high-strung Millennial can take a step back into an imaginary world.

“Stranger Things” is approximately eight hours of pure, sometimes terrifying, wonderfully imaginative science fiction. The show centers on three young friends searching for the missing member of their posse, Will Byers. The three are joined by Eleven, an atypical little girl with unusual powers.

The show is set in the ‘80s and is reminiscent of a Midwestern childhood filled with biking in the woods, board games and tried-and-true friendship. Throughout my eight hours of watching the show, I was reminded of nothing else: not school shootings, not war, not political feuds, not violence.

“Stranger Things” allowed my mind to be, for a short time, a blank slate on which the writers could tell a carefully-woven story that left me with questions, wonder and awe.

It’s okay to stop thinking sometimes; it’s okay to take yourself out of someone else’s shoes and be in your own shoes for a while.

Gabby Seed is a columnist for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]