I just finished the second season of “Stranger Things” and if ever there was a perfect streaming series for middle-age guys, I don’t know what is.
For the uninitiated, “Stranger Things” is a bit of “The X-Files” meets “Stand By Me,” the coming of age movie based on the short story by Stephen King of a group of boys on an adventure to see a dead body.
For those repulsed by the premise of that plot and who wonder how boys could unite behind such a “mission,” well, I would just offer these two thoughts: You never were a boy and/or you don’t have sons.
Without giving away key plot points, “Stranger Things” tells the story of a band of preteen boys who fall into a series of supernatural adventures.
My wife recently summed up the central premise of the smash series this way: It’s boys doing stupid things.
To which I responded: Yeah! Isn’t it great?!
For guys of a certain age (read: in their 50s), this show hits all of the right buttons.
It features boys on bikes, using walkie-talkies, playing dorky games and trying find their way through school while fending off bullies and the stray supernatural occurrence.
It captures the gangly awkwardness of preteen boys and their sense of camaraderie and loyalty, even when it is punctuated with swearing at each other.
The show absolutely nails the preteen boy angst of trying to figure out girls: We don’t like them, right? Oh wait, maybe we do? But if we do, where does that leave our friendship with each other?
And then, of course, there is the whole ‘80s vibe, which no other show apart from maybe “The Americans” captures as well.
Vintage video arcade games? Check.
Gas-guzzling cars built like Abrams tanks? Check.
Sound track of music we grew up with? Check.
My wife could only shake her head at some of the reckless and bizarre situations the boys in the show get themselves into and ponder how realistic some of those moments were.
Um…let me just suggest that by my real-life standards, they were spot-on.
I mean, let me offer these true examples of acts of stupidity I engaged in with my friends:
* Building squirrel traps by digging holes in the ground, lining them with thorns from bushes and covering the holes with grass.
* Taking an air gun, squishing the muzzle into the ground to fill it with dirt and then firing the dirt balls at cars as they entered a parking garage. This was not the original intent of the rifle, which when you cocked it and pulled the trigger, made a popping noise but somehow we figured out an “adaptive use.”
* Posing my friends to appear as drug dealers or a suicidal addict prepared to jump out a third-floor window so I could create a photo essay.
Yeah, I would say that by comparison to some of my childhood adventures, the cast of the hit Netflix series might have to try harder to top some of my stranger things.