Netflix has a hit on its hands.
“Stranger Things,” its latest original series, has far outpaced other Netflix originals in viewership. In the first 16 days, 8.2 million people watched the science fiction drama, putting it far ahead of hits like “House of Cards,” “Daredevil,” and “Jessica Jones.”
And while the series draws on a compelling plot, solid acting, and exceptional cinematography to make a sale to viewers, it would be difficult to ignore the magic that holds it all together: a nostalgia for earlier days.
The show, set in a rural Indiana town during the 1980s, transports viewers to another period in American history.
An era apparently void of the complexities of modern life.
There are no smartphones or video games. Instead, children in the show are seen navigating the small town on bicycles, playing board games, and getting into innocent mischief. Law enforcement holds the respect of the community and the nuclear family is alive and well.
It’s a period of time many Americans recall fondly in their memories — and, according to Republican strategists who spoke to Business Insider, its the same nostalgia that’s also fuelling some of Donald Trump’s popularity with supporters.
“Arguably we were winning under [President Ronald] Reagan. We won the Cold War. We were a superpower in the ’80s. The economy was booming,” said John Thomas, a Republican strategist and president of Thomas Partners Strategies. “So I think that’s what a lot of people want to go back to.”
“The other interesting thing was we were more homogeneous in the 1980s as a culture,” Thomas added, saying the nation has become divided on several issues that run deep through society.
Indeed, in the past several years America has undergone radical transformation.
The Black Lives Matter movement has stirred discussion on racial inequality, the Supreme Court has legalised gay marriage, and for the first time in US history a major political party has nominated a woman for president.
“[Trump] wants to go back to a simpler time where some of these thorny issues that are difficult” are not at the forefront of American politics, said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist and president of the Potomac Strategy Group. “The gender issues, the racial issues, the sexuality issues — at the end of the day he wants to focus on immigration, the economy and trade.”
Mackowiak noted that many adults who had a positive experience growing up want to return to those days — something he sees in Trump.
“He did like the world that existed when he was a kid,” Mackowiak said. “And a lot of us are based on our childhood. If we had a happy childhood, we sometimes want to recreate it. And so, I think for the most part, I think he would in his own mind would like to take us back to a simple world where right and wrong were very clear.”
For his part, Trump hasn’t hid his desire to take Americans back to earlier days. His entire campaign is based on the premise of making America great again — something which Thomas noted is strange.
“Every election is about moving forward,” he said, pointing out the anomaly with Trump in the 2016 campaign cycle.
But perhaps a sizable portion of the country doesn’t want to move forward, and that’s why Trump got nominated. They want to go back to a past they remember fondly.
And its that glowing view of the older days that provides the magic in “Stranger Things.” The call back to a more simple time.
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