What is it about Stranger Things that makes us love it so much and why can’t we get enough? It has cross generational appeal so our kids actually want to sit down and binge it together but it hits the mark in so many other ways. Our kids may be obsessed with this Netflix hit for different reasons, but it appeals to me, and a certain generation of parents, because it captures an era, bringing back the nostalgia of our youth through characters like Joyce Byers from Stranger Things.
Warning: Contains Stranger Things spoilers so if you haven’t watched seasons 1 and 2, you might want to avoid this post until you’re done!
Every episode is filled with a multitude of tiny details that transport me right back to being a kid in 1984. Some references are so obviously 80s like the boys free ranging it around town on their banana seat bikes, corded telephones mounted to the wall, fabulous 80s garb, Steve’s Farrah Fawcett inspired locks, Ghostbusters Halloween costumes, and the existence of Radio Shack, but when you look closer, the show is like an onion with layers of clues from a decade past.
Have you ever noticed how Elle’s trip to Chicago in season 2 brings out her inner Robert Palmer girl? It wouldn’t be weird if she appeared with a guitar in hand and started swaying to Addicted to Love! Did you catch that Sean Austin is the one who figures out the map as a nod to his role as Mikey in the Goonies from 1985? Or what about the creepy way the demogorgen stops just outside the utility closet where Bob is hiding? Maybe it’s just me but the shadow of the claw is reminiscent of the velociraptor stalking the humans hiding in the Jurassic Park kitchen. And the strong friendships cemented by life changing events are reminiscent of Stand By Me. Interestingly enough, the Duffers had all the boys audition with scenes from Stand By Me.
Stranger Things weaves together nostalgia with a storyline that we can’t get enough of and brings us Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers from Stranger Things. As an 80s kid I grew up with her in Heathers, she was there after college graduation navigating the real world in Reality Bites, and I love having her back in my life as Will’s mom. Joyce Byers from Stranger Things is a woman that whose unapologetic accept-me-for-who-I-am ways make me wish she could be one of my IRL friends.
8 Reasons Every Mom Needs a Friend Like Joyce Byers from Stranger Things
Her maternal instincts are right every time
What may seem like a deep love of conspiracy theories to some is Joyce trusting her maternal instincts. Somehow she knew that Will was communicating with her through the lights and that the smoke monster was using his body to spy. Joyce makes us believe in our own maternal instincts although we never hope ours are right about smoke monsters, the existence of the Upside Down, or the evil that exists in a place like Hawkins National Lab.
Excels at communicating with her kids when they don’t want to talk
Oh tweens. They are on the cusp of the teenage years and have the mood to prove it but Joyce has mastered the fine art of getting her kids to talk to her even at the most trying times. Even if your kid isn’t stuck in the upside down or occupied by a smoke monster, send them over to Joyce’s house and chances are she’ll get them to talk to her even if they won’t talk to you.
Willing to help with pest removal
Spider? Mouse in the basement? Demo-dog? Step aside and call Joyce. Those little things are nothing after going to the Upside Down and evicting the smoke monster from her son’s body.
Master of solving puzzles
Whether mental or physical puzzles, Joyce puts together pieces like no one can. She figured out the real deal with Hawkins National Lab, realized that flickering lights are more than just a power surge, and made sense of scribbles to reveal a map to an underground world. So give her the task of putting together the middle. I bet she’ll have those pieces together before you finish the edges.
Will never criticize your decorating choices
If you didn’t judge Joyce for hanging her Christmas lights with the alphabet to communicate with Will when he was in the upside down or piecing together the many sheets of paper Will drew that mapped out the vines, chances are she won’t criticize the lack of feng shui in your home or the shabby chic that’s more shabby than anything else.
More free range than a helicopter parent
Sure the 80s were a different time but we could all learn from how in touch Joyce is with her kids. Because of her deep connection with her kids, her trust allows her to free range parent instead of hover like a helicopter mom. How else could you explain her encounter with Jonathan and Nancy in the police station when they’re caught with a bear trap, handgun, and gas in the car after assaulting a police officer? Even though free ranges, she exhibit the occasional sign of hovering like when Hopper finds her waiting outside by her car while Will is at the middle school dance. We can’t fault her though because experience tells us middle school dances are more terrifying than anything in the vicinity of Hawkins National Labratory.
Can always spare a set of Christmas lights
If you want to go all Clark Griswold on your home for the holidays, Joyce is the one to call. She’ll bring over her collection of multi-colored holiday lights and probably stick around to help you hang them. If you need to unscrew bulbs to check for the bad one in the bunch, that’s more of a job for Nancy and Jonathan.
Would serve as the neighborhood watch
Maybe it’s her job at the variety store where she gets to interact with all of Hawkins or the way she’s in touch with her kids but Joyce always seems to know what’s going on. This makes her the perfect candidate for neighborhood watch block captain, saving you the trouble of volunteering yourself. In case you’re wondering what additional skills Joyce might bring to neighborhood watch, she’s especially skilled at using an axe to help keep the community safe.
Gets your crazy because she’s been there too
Bad day? Don’t worry, Joyce’s track record proves that she’s had a few of those one too. While Mrs. Wheeler may the one in the neighborhood to listen with a sympathetic ear while you sip chilled white wine, you can rant to Joyce. She gets your crazy because she’s right there with you and that’s just one of the many reasons why we love her so.
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