Before I knew anything else about Stranger Things, I knew that Barb deserved better…I knew it before I even knew who Barb was. It was the first thing anyone who saw the series said – “poor Barb…Barb deserved better…Justice for Barb!” – and, after I watched the series, I absolutely agreed. Barb totally deserved better. That part isn’t really at question; what is, is why has everyone remained so attached to the character? There are plenty of characters across pop culture media who deserved better than what they got, but Barb is the first I’ve seen receive an almost nationwide outcry for justice. …Why? What’s so special about Stranger Things’ Barb?
More than anything Fear the Walking Dead’s “Pablo and Jessica” focuses on how characters react after the loss of loved ones. Even the opening scene speaks to this as Madison takes a page out of her “lost” son’s playbook in killing and gutting an Infected, then covering herself and Strand in the blood to escape the overrun hotel bar. Once outside they find their truck gone; Strand presumes Alicia and Ofelia fled, forcing Madison to again face the possibility of losing someone she loves. Something she stubbornly refuses to do as she insists that, unlike Nick, Alicia wouldn’t just leave, and is relieved to be proven correct when she finds Alicia (along with Elena and Hector) banging on the other side of one of spa’s doors.
Over and over I saw articles discussing the wonderful manner in which Stranger Things subverted the “bad-boyfriend” stereotype with its character, Steve Harrington. Steve starts as the typical 80s jock who’s kind of a jerk, but still cute and popular enough for sweet and brainy Nancy to turn her back on what she cares about – good grades, doing the right thing, her best friend, Barb – in order to be with him. As the show progresses Steve seems to increasingly play into his archetype until…he doesn’t. Until he stands up to his nasty friends and helps both Nancy and his romantic rival, Jonathan, fight off the Demogorgon at risk to his own safety.
…But “Bad-Boyfriend” Steve isn’t the only stereotype subverted. In truth, the magic of the show lies, in no small part, in all the archetypes and tropes it sets up and then slowly tears apart across the episodes.
The opening scene of Fear the Walking Dead’s “Do Not Disturb” is a flashback to the wedding the hotel had before the world fell apart. As the bride and her father dance he collapses, dies, then comes back to bite his daughter in the face as she tries to give him mouth-to-mouth. After that the hotel manager promptly locks the entire wedding party and their guests in the ballroom. …Thanks show writers, I needed another reason to instinctually dislike weddings.
The latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead is “Los Muertos” – Spanish for “The Dead” – and it kicks off with just that…the dead. Specifically, a man feeding himself to a pack of them guarding La Colonia while the rest of the community chants and Nick looks on with the man’s daughter. It’s pretty clear, just from that alone, that Nick’s found himself in yet another undead-loving cult. This one may be more dangerous than Cecilia and her fellow house-staff, however, because this one is an entire, functioning, town of filled with the devoted.
Remember when everyone on Fear the Walking Dead was stuck on a boat and pirates were trying to take all their stuff? Or they were all in a villa run by a crazed housekeeper who believed the undead were just the next step in living? Yeah…those good times are pretty clearly over. Everyone’s splintered and if the mid-season premiere is any indication, their lives are going to be a series of terrible experiences from now on.
There are easily a thousand amazing things in the Netflix series Stranger Things, from the literary and film references to the scientific concepts behind the “Upside Down”. The music is classic 80s’, the tone wonderfully nostalgic, and the story a great mix of humor, drama, and tense, sci-fy, horror. The characters are classic 80s’ cliches, but also deep, complex, creations with unique personalities, distinct faults, and, in certain cases, possible psychological disorders…specifically PTSD. Two specific characters on the show exhibit symptoms even prior to having to battle a Demogorgon — Eleven (aka El) and Chief Hopper (aka Hop).
— Please note there will be many, many, spoilers for the show coming up. —
I recently had the opportunity to go to the Walker Stalker Convention 2016 in Boston…if the name isn’t clue enough, it’s a fan convention geared towards The Walking Dead universe and the horror genre in general. It’s only the second convention I’ve been to – the first was PAXEast 2015 – and first where I took the opportunity to truly interact with celebrity guests and other fans. I had a great experience all around and am glad I went; enough that I hope to grab myself a two day pass next time and would absolutely attend other conventions in the future.
Obviously, two experiences makes me a novice, at best, but I’d like to share certain things that I discovered during said experiences. You can call them survival tips for the soul if you like, or merely suggestions to get the most enjoyment out of your day…I call them: The ABC’s of Conventions.