STRANGER THINGS & Old School 80s Basements
[UPDATE: Added the new trailer for Stranger Things Season 2!]
Stranger Things is a phenomenal show. If you have any attachment to the 80s you owe it to yourself to sit through this 8 episode throwback.
Got it? It’s really, REALLY good!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want to talk about my parents basement growing up. I’m a giant geek. A geek who grew up in a basement similar to the one featured in the latest amazing Netflix original. Stranger Things reminded me of the amazing atmosphere and how much that space inspired who I am today.
When I was growing up, my parents basement was unfinished and full of furniture that didn’t match. There was an open laundry room, a tool closet and tons of glorious junk, toys and gadgets. Eventually, I moved a futon down there and called the space ‘my room’. It was there I set up my hastily put together movie shelves and video game collection. There was an entertainment unit that held a 12 inch television that was the center of my universe. (I eventually upgraded to a 21 inch beast.)
I’m actually shocked my NES and N64 still work to this day given the amount of hours I played down there. Not to mention the countless hours of movies I watched (and re-watched) over and over again. One day, I’ll explain to my daughter why you had to watch movie rentals at least twice to justify the expense.
I still remember Friday nights, TGIF, a bag of salt & vinegar chips, a can of sprite, a rented Nintendo game and an action movie. I became obsessed with movies in that basement. I fell in love with screenwriting in that basement. I invented board games in that basement. I embraced my addiction to video games in that basement. I loved that space.
On the opposite side of the room, was my Dad’s home office. Home of 14.4k and 28.8k modems, MS DOS, Compaq Presario 850s and CD ROM drives. I was excited beyond belief the day my Dad brought home the CD ROM drive. We had to watch a video on how to install it and managed to pull it off. I wish I could fully explain how much I loved our computers growing up.
QBASIC, Warcraft, Commander Keen, Chips Challenge, DOOM, Wolfenstein 3D, SIMCITY classic and the freaking internet! It was absolutely devastating when I got home from school and my Dad had work to do. I had to check out the new releases on happypuppy.com! (That’s an ancient gaming site that featured various Shareware titles and free downloads… Remember Shareware!?) I downloaded and tried every piece of software I could find whether it had practical applications in my life or not.
Everything changed for me the day I found a screenplay template for Microsoft Word. This was long before I could afford software like Final Draft to learn screenwriting. I stayed up all night and went to school exhausted because I wanted to write movies and play games. That basement was the birth place of my creativity.
If you’ve seen Stranger Things, you’ll understand why the Wheeler’s basement brought back so many happy memories for me.
In high school, my parents basement became a production studio where we produced short films on old school video cameras. Eventually I discovered non-linear editing software. I fell in love with the craft of editing in that basement. A love that eventually became my full time career!
When I moved on to post secondary school my friends and I used to meet at my house before we went out to the bars. (To drink responsibly of course) It also became our post bar hang out. (Our late night pizza deliveries annoyed my parents every weekend.) Eventually, our basement became known as ‘Foreman’s Basement’. A tribute to That 70s Show.
I moved away for college 13 years ago and I can’t help but feel nostalgic when a show like Stranger Things comes along. That was my childhood! People have compared the show to Spielberg classics like E.T and Goonies. That’s a perfect comparison but Stranger Things went far beyond the themes, plot beats and characters. Stranger Things brought me back to a time when I learned what it means to be a nerd. Something I’m incredibly proud of to this day.
I fell in love with the art of storytelling in that basement. It didn’t matter what medium it was. Writing, movies, video games, board games, comic books, short films, role playing games… You name it!
My parents basement is renovated today but I still go down there when I’m home and reflect on how inspired I felt when it was MY room.
Thank you Stranger Things. I can’t wait for Season 2!