Stranger Things Season 4 and Racism

Lucinda Gunnin
7 min readJul 28, 2022

My husband and I are binge watchers of television, in that we never watch things as they come out. We wait until the season is finished before we start watching it.

And sometimes that means we don’t get around to watching things while they are still being discussed ad nauseum on social media, traditional media and by people everywhere.

Sometimes it means we get a few spoilers before we get to watch it, but it’s worth it to wait until we can watch the shows the way we prefer.

We also, with few exceptions, limit ourselves to two hours of TV time per day and about four days a week, because of other evening commitments.

All that is the long way of saying, we finally got around to watching Stranger Things, Season 4 and finished it this week.

We are the quintessential target market for this show: We are horror fans, we are gamers and I graduated from high school in 1986. I could have been one of the geeky kids on this show except that my friends were never that cool. And there were literally no Black kids in my Colorado town. There was only one Black family in town and their children were grown by the time I was in school.

So using that lens, we feel like the Duffer brothers have done a pretty good job of capturing the era the show is set in.

Unfortunately, it is also bringing a lot of people who are unfamiliar with horror tropes and the manner in which horror addresses societal issues. Which leads me to my complete disappointment in Teen Vogue’s take on the season.

If you watch like we do and haven’t finished the season, spoilers ahead!

In an editorial here, Teen Vogue concludes that in the final episode some of the very racist events were a disservice to the two Black characters that have been a part of the cast since the beginning. They argue that by presenting the Black characters in situations that they could actually face, they are being lazy with the horror and that the “real life” horror was unnecessary.

Unfortunately, they are looking at the scenes without putting them in the context of the entire season and the context of 1986.

In the beginning of season 4, we see Lucas, the one Black character in the main group arguing with his friends because he has joined the basketball team and the team has made it to the championships. The championship game is scheduled at the same…

Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She’s a news junky, sushi addict, and geek extraordinaire.