The Netflix hit series Stranger Things revolves around a group of teenagers who face various supernatural creatures after the advent of Eleven in their home town of Hawkins, Indiana.

The timeline of the story is in the early 80s. Is there a significant reason for the directors choosing this? I mean there could have been any timeline for that matter of fact. Earlier or later than the current one. Hence my question.


2 Answers 2


To pay homage to some of their favorite works!

The Duffer Brothers developed the series as a mix of investigative drama alongside supernatural elements portrayed with horror, science fiction and childlike sensibilities. Setting the series in the 1980s, the Duffer Brothers infused references to the pop culture of that decade while several themes and directorial aspects were inspired primarily by the works of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King, as well as anime and video games. They also took inspiration from strange experiments that took place during the Cold War and real world conspiracy theories involving secret government experiments.

And as a matter of opinion, the following article attempts to point out why they think it was strategically brilliant move.

One of the most unique aspects of the series is its detailed commitment to the 1980s setting. But the '80s context presented is not merely an artistic throwback -- it is, in fact, strategically critical to the storyline and the success of the show. Having watched “Stranger Things”, one may consider the many reasons why creators did not set the story now in 2016:

Cell Phones

Let’s address the main issue that definitely would have thrown the “Stranger Things” writers for a loop: cell phones. Today, it is so easy to get in contact with someone -- a quick phone call would have saved the characters of “Stranger Things” a lot of trouble. With iPhones, you can send a text and know the second that someone gets it thanks to read receipts. Family and friends would know immediately that something was wrong when all phone contact was dropped, or if they used a GPS mobile cell locator. If the series was set today, writers would have constantly had to pull their hair out over finding new ways to say the cell phones died or got left behind to make the plots plausible and suspenseful.


It appears that parents today are much more overprotective than the parents in “Stranger Things”. In the show, a child not coming home after school one night is not a cause for immediate alarm. Not being in constant contact was simply expected during the '80s (see above). Other authorities were also presented as more relaxed compared to today’s standards -- kids were able to ditch classes all day without the school notifying parents. Families were well-intentioned but completely oblivious to the young kids’ actions, which allowed for the storyline to progress as it did. The level of freedom the main characters have are far beyond what any child is accustomed to now.

The Impossible is Possible

Something about our everyday life seems so, well, ordinary. However, taking the era back just a few decades can make it more easy to believe the extraordinary is possible. “Stranger Things” has a touch of fantasy to it that would be hard to equate to our present world. Even though the storyline is based off what would have been normal reality for these characters, to us with our 21st century perspectives, it almost seems like another world.

The Importance of Nostalgia

There’s a reason Millennials will always have a soft spot for Finding Nemo, Rihanna, Facebook, and skinny jeans. The pop culture of today will forever be associated with glowing memories of your childhood and young adult lives, which is why the creators of “Stranger Things” were so ingenious. They seamlessly incorporated '80s references, from the rockin’ tunes (The Clash, anyone?) to the actors’ clothing (shoutout to the vintage Nikes and those high, high-waisted jeans), all the way to the Star Wars toys in cluttered bedroom sets. “Stranger Things” appeals to a much wider audience because the story connects to us as much as it does to older generations, including our parents, something that might not have been possible if it was set as a modern childhood adventure.

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    Cell phones make the world smaller - this is a problem in all sorts of storytelling.
    – T.J.L.
    Aug 6, 2020 at 20:53
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    I don't have a soft spot for all the above mentioned personalities and things. In fact I hate some of those. But nevertheless the answer helped. Thanks @Darth Locke. Aug 7, 2020 at 13:59
  • @T.J.L. There is an Argentinean writer who argues that no classic story can be told if you put cell phones in them. El móvil de Hansel y Gretel | Hernán Casciari, yes, in Spanish.
    – nilon
    Nov 3, 2020 at 18:41

To lure in a target audience of people who grew up in the 80s and are nostalgic about those times. Now that generation is about 40, spends lots of time in front of Netflix, and is a great demographic to target since they have money to spend.

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    And a lot of people "my" age (39) have children of their own too and are interested in sharing their nostalgia with them, as something like Stranger Things really pulls greatly from horror, sci-fi, romantic comedy, coming of age story from the late 70's into the early 80's Aug 8, 2020 at 20:43
  • About 40? Mike and the gang graduate 8th grade in 1985. That makes them 50-51 now.
    – ruffdove
    May 10, 2022 at 5:03

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