Have eagle-eyed Stranger Things fans found major production mistakes in the Netflix series?
People have been spending the summer wrapping up in the warm, stripy sports jacket of nostalgia that is Stranger Things.
The Duffer Brothers’s thrilling Netflix drama has been praised for its commitment to even the most obscure parts of Eighties nerd culture (such as the exact X-Men comic in which a female character unleashes powers outside of her control).
However, if there could be a downside with making a show for an audience who grew up in the same time as Stranger Things’s endearing child protagonists, it’s that viewers know when the makers got it wrong.
And there are some things that the Duffer Brothers and their prop team did get wrong. Here’s what has been spotted so far:
1. Barb’s car is five years too young for the show
Stranger Things fans have noticed a number of disservices done to Barb, the doomed-but-loveable ginger best friend of Nancy Wheeler. But one of them is that her car couldn’t possibly have existed in 1983. As Jalopnik’s Jason Tochinsky notes, her Volkswagen Cabrio was made in 1988 – you can tell because of its plastic-covered bumpers and small headlights.
2. The acrobat and the flea isn’t an ideal analogy
The acrobat and the flea are so important in Stranger Things that there’s even an episode - or chapter - named after them. They’re part of an analogy science teacher Mr Clarke uses to explain the concept of different dimensions of the same universe to the boys, otherwise known as The Upside Down.
Clarke draws a diagram on a paper plate, with a tightrope, a stick-man and a stick-flea. He explains that while the acrobat can move along the rope, the flea can move in other dimensions – he can go along the side of the rope, or even underneath it.
The problem is, cosmologist Ranga-Ram Chary explained to MIC, that it’s not a perfect analogy for how dimensions work: even if the flea is upside down, he’s in the same dimension as the acrobat, “Upside-down is the same as walking on top of the tightrope," Chary said. "Negative X is the same as positive X.”
We’re fairly sure that Dustin, the true-north knowing, fact-fan lover of the group, would not be satisfied with that.
3. The Demagorgon figurine didn’t exist in 1983
Who knows what Mike, Lucas, Dustin and Will would have represented the deadly Demagorgon had they actually been around in 1983, but it wouldn’t have been the many-headed miniature that held such significance in the Wheeler’s basement. That figurine did exist – and was made out of lead, no less – but not until 1984.
4. The boys might not have had quite such fancy walkie-talkies
The delightfully nerdy boys are unashamed fans of their telecommunications kit, and their walkie-talkies and radio equipment is essential for the electronic communication between The Upside Down and the real world. The TRC-214 walkie-talkies that are shown in the drama really would have worked around Hawkins - they have a range of at least a mile.
However, fans have to suspend some belief over the reality of all of the boys, especially Will, who comes from a cash-strapped single-parent family, owning their portable radios. As Wired have pointed out, these were walkie-talkies that were used by professionals at events or on building sites. More problematic is the fact that the TRC-214 might not have even existed in 1983 – it first appears in the 1985 Radio Shack catalogue.
There’s another question mark over the headset Dustin sports while out and about on his bike when communicating with Lucas: would he really have had one of those in 1983? Bearing in mind that the walkie-talkies were possibly too futuristic for the time, it’s likely that the wearable mic is, too.
5. The department of energy isn’t evil
Sure, Steve and Co are not the kind of kids we (and Barb!) think Nancy should be hanging around with, and Ted, Lay-Z-Boy owner and apathetic father, isn’t the world’s greatest suburban man, but Stranger Things doesn’t hold back when it comes to the Department of Energy.
In fact, the US government organisation felt so strongly against the way they had been portrayed as monster-creating, child-experimenting, secret-keeping baddies that an Energy Department spokesperson wrote a defence explaining that, no, they do not create monsters or experiment on children.
6. What’s with the boys’ orange bike lights?
This has been baffling cycling nerds of the eighties. Quite a lot of work went into the two-wheeled metal steeds that Mike, Lucas and Dustin bomb around Hawkins on. Head of props on the show, Lynda Reiss, explains to Wired that she had to find 16 in total: a primary bike, a backup, a stunt bike and a backup stunt bike for each boy (and, of course, Will, who doesn’t get to ride his for long).
So there was a lot of painting to do, as it’s very difficult to find 16 identical eighties bikes. However, the bikes all have orange lights during the day - despite emitting the bright white light at night. Jalopnik theorises that the mysterious colour is from a gel, used by film crews to level out the bike lights during night shots. Close-ups even show the gaffa tape that has been used to stick it on. The question remains, however: why weren’t the gels taken off?
7. There is a light that should have never been on
There is a Light That Never Goes Out, one of The Smiths's most mawkish teenage bedroom anthems, was playing in the background during one of the heartwarming flashbacks between Will and Jonathan. It makes a lot of sense thematically: Jonathan is a teenage indie music nerd and flashing lights will go on to hold great significance for the Byers family. Awkwardly, however, that particular Smiths song wasn't released until 1986.