Entertainment

The Upsidedown is a brilliant metaphor in Stranger Things: Schneller

Pre-teen protagonists on popular Netflix show toggle crazily between childhood and maturity.

Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, is floating in a blank space, beyond the reality of her friend Mike (Finn Worlfhard), writes Johanna Schneller.

Netflix

Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, is floating in a blank space, beyond the reality of her friend Mike (Finn Worlfhard), writes Johanna Schneller.

The Show: Stranger Things, Season 2, Episode 2 (Netflix)

The Moment: The bad Halloween

For Mike (Finn Wolfhard), it’s been a tough Halloween. Not only were he and his pals the only kids to wear costumes to school — “How does everyone but us know?” Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) asks, speaking for every kid, ever — but Dustin and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) ruined trick-or-treat by including a new girl.

Mike misses Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Back home in his room, he flips on his walkie-talkie. “I had a bad day,” he tells the static. “I wish you were here. If you’re out there, please give me a sign.”

He can’t know it, but Eleven is there, floating next to him in a black space beyond his reality. For an instant, he feels her presence. “Eleven?” he asks. Just as she reaches out to touch him, he gives up and flips off the walkie.

The camera pulls back, the music comes up, and we see Eleven alone in deep darkness.

How brilliant of showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer to do a sci-fi series about pre-teen protagonists. For early adolescents, life is The Upsidedown. Everything once normal is suddenly weird, and you toggle crazily between childhood and maturity, one minute debating your top three candy bars; the next, desperately wondering if you’ll ever be loved.

In this one-day arc, Mike goes to school a child; goes trick-or-treating a petulant pre-teen; and goes to bed flooded with adult emotions. The final scene is right out of Romeo and Juliet: the lovers in the lightless tomb, coming this close and then losing each other again. Lovely.

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