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Will Bayer had a tough year in Season 1 of the Netflix hit sci-fi thriller Stranger Things. He was supernaturally abducted into a parallel universe where he was alone, sick, and constantly on the look out from a horrendous monster. The only communication he had with the outside world was through supernatural means as well. Viewers don’t know for sure the everyday details of what Will went through in the “upside down”, but through contextual exposition, it was easy to guess- it wasn’t pleasant. At the end of the first season, we witness Will suffer a flashback in a bathroom as he is momentarily transported back into the ‘upside down’ and regurgitates a foreign slug.

While Will is missing in Season 1, we get to know another character, someone Will does not meet throughout the entire season, a young girl who goes by the name “Eleven”, “Elle” for short. Eleven speaks very minimal words as she has been held in captivity by undercover scientific labs for most of her life. She was kidnapped at a young age from her mother and raised in labs, undergoing strenuous and often traumatic testing. Eleven has telepathic capabilities. Nearly every episode Eleven is present, we witness her having flashbacks of her own experience in the “upside down”, the laboratory, and watch as she attempts to adjust to being in the world outside of the lab.

As one primary character develops their trauma another character works through it. Everyone involved in the supernatural story is experiencing things in their life causing trauma as well. Friends lose friends, parents lose children, monsters run in the woods, and unbelievable events take place. Everyone is affected and everyone is changed in the way they see themselves, see the world, and see their place in the world. Trauma is unfolding, taking place, and being relived every minute of the show. All the characters display a truly remarkable resiliency and dedication to saving Will and solving the mystery of the “upside down”.

We can see the “upside down” as a metaphor for what life is like after incurring trauma. The world can feel like a parallel universe as it is illustrated through the “upside down”- dark, scary, and lonely. A mirror image of the “real world”, the “upside down” represents how life feels almost the same after trauma. Until trauma can be resolved, however, things are never quite as they were before.

In the finale, Will and Eleven trade places. Will is rescued from the “upside down” and Eleven courageously volunteers her return as she faces the monster head on. Things seem to be back to “normal” as Will returns to his friends and the search for Eleven begins. Season 2 brings a new nature of trauma and experience.

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