Stranger Things is absolutely a sci-fi horror series indebted to Stephen King, Stephen Spielberg, and a whole host of stories from the 1970s and ‘80s. But at the heart of the show and so many of its forebears is the anxiety and absurdity that comes with living in a seemingly ordinary American town. I don’t think it’s a stretch, then, to draw a thread between life in Hawkins, Indiana to the lives of Chuck Schultz’ Peanuts characters. All of that makes this mashup of Stranger Things and A Charlie Brown Christmas pretty inspired.
Here, a Peanuts-ified Will Byers is struggling with a sense of unease after his ordeal in the Upside Down. He, understandably, hasn’t fully recovered, even though he’s being asked to move on. After consulting with Eleven, Mike, and even the Demogorgon, he discovers that all he really needs is time and the support of the friends who care for him.
We don’t see all that much of him in season one, but Will is pretty Charlie Brown-esque in Stranger Things. He, like Brown, is an awkward outsider, but he has a close-knit group of fellow misfits. Trouble comes, and the kids in both boys’ live have to more or less fend for themselves to figure things out. So it would make sense — apart from whatever the Duffer Brothers have planned for season two — that he would struggle with anxiety. (Whenever he’s not vomiting up slugs, anyway.) And having everyone come together at the end to console Will makes for an excellent homage to the the Peanuts classic.
It’s still super unfair to Barb, though. She needs her own animated spinoff at this point.