Recently, I started watching That 70s Show again after watching the sequel show, That 90s Show. Every time that I have watched it, there always seems to be an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Maybe this comes from the show itself playing with nostalgia. Despite its name, the show was released throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s. The creators of the show wanted to reminisce about the teenage life of the 70s in a similar way to how the Duffer Brothers play with 80s nostalgia from their childhood in Stranger Things. To me, it is interesting to think about the fact that I feel a sense of nostalgia for both of these shows and their settings despite being born in 2004 and growing up in the 2010s. Why do I connect so strongly to characters from another time? Why do I sometimes wish I could have grown up in the 70s or 80s?
And I’m not the only one who has felt this way either. If you were on TikTok in the summer of 2019 or 2022 when Stranger Things seasons 3 and 4 came out, you would have seen the increase of videos about the show and the 80s era. We can also look at the resurgence of 70s, 80s, and 90s fashion in the past years. I know that my parents found it odd that we were all wearing the types of clothes they wore as teenagers and young adults. Why are we so drawn to a time other than our own?
I believe that some of the nostalgia that I feel for Stranger Things comes from my experience watching it. I remember vividly the first time that I binged season 1 and 2 on Halloween of 2017. After going trick or treating with my friends, I sat on a chair in my kitchen and watched as much of the show as I could before midnight (that was late for 13-year-old Sophie). The next morning, I woke up, went to school, and spent the whole evening and night finishing season 2. I was absolutely infatuated with the show. I became obsessed with consuming all the media I could surrounding the show. I watched talk show interviews of the cast, followed Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, and Finn Wolfhard on social media, and even watched Beyond Stranger Things. I watched the entire show again and again as I waited for season 3 to come out two years later.
I felt such a strong connection to the characters that were created, and I felt so nostalgic for the 80s and life in the Midwest. I think that is part of why I felt nostalgic to the show, the Midwest setting. My childhood was spent in my backyard, playing in the trees and creating stories surrounding the nature I was engulfed in. I adventured through the plains (more like yards in hindsight) of my backyard. I traveled through the forests of my grandparents’ backyard and swam in the seas of my other grandparents’ pool. Stranger Things reminds you of those childhood moments you held so dearly while also making true the adventures you had. Monsters were real, superpowers were real, love was real. Stranger Things brought to life all the stories you created with your neighborhood friends and more.
Shows like Stranger Things and That 70s Show make your childhood feel more alive. It gives you nostalgia for those sacred moments and allows you to step back into yourself. You can feel connected with the world while also escaping it. That’s the beauty of nostalgic shows like these.