Stranger Things and IT, Losing Innocence and Growing Up

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what moment in life that you lost your innocence, or grew up, and where no longer considered a child. I recently watched both “Stranger Things 2” and “IT”, and I found that they both shared some common themes. Although they are both different tonally and in genre, they both have multiple things in common, such as their use of child actors, setting, and nostalgia factor. Since “Stranger Things 2” and “IT” are both considered “coming of age” stories, they both address growing up in similar ways. The children in both of these movies are forced to grow up through the events that are happening TO them. The writer of these two incorporate both aspects of adulthood and childhood into their stories of growing up. On one hand, you have childish things like toys, which make some big appearances in Stranger Things. Things like Lucas’ Wrist Rocket and Mike’s Fort are key elements to the story and even help the children in their times of need. But mature adults frown apon toys, after all, they are nothing more than the playthings of children, are they not? But Stranger Things embraces childhood, it relishes in it. Things like make believe and toys all matter because in a child’s mind, they do matter. The children of “Stranger Things 2” and “IT” also face their fears, the monster under the bed. While this is taken to the literal extent in Stephen King’s book, in “Stranger Things 2”, the demogorgon is very real, but it is not unbelievable to the kids, because in their world of dungeons and dragons and make believe, monsters are real, and that makes coping with this reality much easier for the kids. Mrs. Byers on the other hand (played by Winona Ryder), is shaken to the core when she realizes that the supernatural exists, because in her world, it isn’t real, the monster under the bed is something that would exist in a child’s nightmare, not in reality. The children meet their foe with whatever they’ve got, but they are forced to grow up.

This is partially accomplished by loss. We get our first glimpse of loss in “IT” when Georgie is brutally murdered, which sobers Bill. Loss is not as harsh in “Stranger Things 2”, partially because the children firmly believe that they will find their missing friend. THe teenagers of “Stranger Things 2”, not quite children anymore, but not yet adults, look death straight in the face when their friend Barbara is killed by the demogorgon. They have just outgrown childhood but they don’t have the emotional maturity that an adult would have, which is what makes their existence in season two so difficult. It is a major plot point of the second season that Nancy cannot handle her grief. Mike also faces loss himself when he is separated from his new friend and love interest, Eleven. This has an impact on him, which is evident in the second season. Losing someone close to you is harsh, and hardens you, it changes you, but it is a necessary part of life.

Maturity comes in all forms, and this is where “Stranger Things 2” and “IT” differ. “Stranger Things 2” and “IT” both address emotional maturity, but only the book version of “IT” addresses sexual maturity. The scene involves graphic sex and takes place between all members of the “loser club”. “Stranger Things 2” decides to take a less graphic route, and addresses emotional maturity. While the characters in “Stranger Things 2” are still kids, they are learning to love. Mike and Eleven are a prime example, but Max, Lucas, and Dustin are another. They realize that they have changed throughout their journey.

Growing up is a difficult process, and sometimes situations in life make it come that much sooner, maybe at a time when you think that you aren’t quite ready.

I am 15, the same age as the kids on “Stranger Things 2”, so I thought it would be interesting to make this essay. I am in no way saying that I am mature, or even more mature than the kids featured on “Stranger Things 2”, I just enjoyed making this essay.