Let’s get down to brass tacks.
Eleven in Stranger Things is learning how to let it flow.
As in she’s that age, she’s full of emotion and newfound power – and when she uses it, she bleeds. Through the nose, but yeah.
Ok, sure, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But really, is a light saber JUST a light saber? When Luke is just burgeoning into his real manhood, he receives this amazingly long, powerful device that just pops up when he needs it? You do you, Luke, no judgement here – just don’t get me started on his long pointy ship needing to get the torpedo in just the right place in the big round Death Star. Ahem.
But I digress.
The fact is, of the human experiences we share, some of the most profound and formative are these awakening moments in our early teens. We go from childhood into a fully realized person, and that means new powers and learning how to wield them. Those connotations are bound to exist in fiction about that time, why not?
There’s no need to get Doylist about this, I’m not saying that’s what the Duffer Brothers are trying to say, necessarily. But it’s a halfway decent metaphor, I think, and metaphors can be illuminating.
If nothing else, Stranger Things should be commended for documenting the teen girl’s journey and even celebrating it. For every female human on Earth, there was a time without the flow, and then there was the flow. And with it a host of other things: a surge of emotion, sensation, raw energy, and even thoughts and perception. Harnessing it and handling it is every girl’s job, like it or not (more often not, of course). It’s the start of a superpower that can one day produce life itself, it’s nothing to sneeze at.
Throughout the first two seasons of Stranger Things, Eleven has to learn to use her telekinetic powers and then she must learn how and when and why to use them – just as all girls must learn to use the powers of their minds and bodies. Different people give her different advice. There are kind people who mean well but don’t necessarily understand, like Hop, and there are many who want to use her powers for their own gain.
Like every girl, Eleven must determine for herself who and what she will be. And deal with the mess.
If nothing else, I’m glad Stranger Things is there for girls these days, showing them a pretty cool example of what their own journey can be like (with less van flipping, maybe, but then again I’ve flipped a few things when PMSing). As much stigma is attached to the flow, girls are far from alone. There are friends and moms and aunts, and there is Eleven.
Let the boys go have a light saber duel. I’ll be over here with Eleven, being raw and strong and trying not to kill things. Most of the time.