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Wicked Nerdery

Where psychology, pop culture, and true crime collide

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stranger things

Adorable & Deadly: 4 Reasons Why We Love Powerful Little Girls

From more recent shows like Stranger Things and the Logan film to cartoons like The Powerpuff Girls there is something hugely appealing about little girls having the power to destroy everyone and everything in their paths.  The question is, why?  What is it about these petite powerhouses that draws audiences across gender lines and generations?

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What About Barb?

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?

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Subversion Magic in Stranger Things

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.

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Stranger Things Trauma

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. —

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