Monday, October 30, 2017

Inside the Upside Down: A Brief Take on SDSU's Stranger Things Viewing Party

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't watched the first few episodes of the second season, you might want to save this for later. 

Netflix’s Stranger Things incites a cultish mania unlike any other streaming series. The ability to binge watch all the episodes in a weekend makes for a tempting date night with your television, especially during the Halloween season. 
Last Friday, SDSU English professor, Dr. Phillip Serrato hosted a viewing party for the highly anticipated second season of Stranger Things for his undergraduate class. The ENGL 503 students displayed their excitement by supplying 80s themed refreshments and snacks (highlighted by the Eggo Waffles), “011” tattoos, handcrafted posters depicting various Stranger Things motifs, and a room decorated with the infamous Christmas lights.

Professor Serrato also extended the invitation to friends, family, faculty and graduate students to enjoy in the communal experience.

The first episode “Madmax” takes place nearly a year later and the show doesn’t disappoint in its 80s nostalgic homages to Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and Friday the 13th. The AV club takes on a new female member and a mysterious disease is killing the crops in Hawkins, Indiana.

In NCSCL’s interview with Professor Serrato in early October, he discussed his optimism about analyzing the upcoming second season and building on the concepts of surveillance culture, exploring ideas on gothic literary traditions, the queer child, and modern family dynamics.

Here’s his brief take on the second season:

“After viewing the first two episodes I find myself with a few different interests, questions, and concerns. I'm intrigued by the Hopper/Eleven relationship and what seems to be a willingness to broach the issue of race more overtly. At the very least there will be much for English 503 to track and discuss.”

Adrian Diaz, a student in Professor Serrato’s ENGL 503 course, comments on the sentimentalization of toys in the first episode:
“One of the things that stood out to me most from the first episode was how Mike's parents were making him donate his toys. Toys played a huge role in the previous season as objects that allowed the kids to Stranger Things, they were a source of empowerment, objects that gave the kids the ability to confront the demagorgon and find Will. The disarmament of Mike shows a fundamental misunderstanding between Mike and his parents as well as showing how this season's problems are different from the previous one in that, maybe this time around, toys won't be enough.”
recognize, communicate, and understand the situation they were in. They even had a place in the final confrontation between them and the demagorgon through Lucas and his wrist rocket. But here in the first episode, we see the toys being taken away. Toys are normally seen as childish and discarding them is a symbol of transitioning to adulthood, but in

Another student, Quito Barajas, questions the way the creators have approached the second season. He says:

“The writers of the show made a mistake by incorporating another test subject from Hawkins lab. It begs the question did the writers really know what they wanted to focus on? Is this going to be a show about uncovering backstory? Is this going to be a show about making the Stakes so high that the world is no longer relatable? Or are there going to be a mix of cheap plot devices within the backstory and the new looming threat which the town now faces that convolute the overall architecture and a substance of the story we got in the first season?”

We’d love to hear your commentary on the second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things. We would also like to thank Professor Phillip Serrato for inviting us to partake in this “strange” experience.

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