Dear AI, My daughter Britney has been doing really strange things since the third season of “Stranger Things” arrived on Netflix. First she binge watched it, not bothering to go to bed that night. Then the next night. Then the third. I even got a call from her eleventh grade English teacher saying all her new essays were about “those monsters from that show.” I’ve tried limiting her to watching on weekends, but she doesn’t quit. She goes to a friend’s house, or watches the first two seasons on her cellphone. I tried to block it, didn’t work. What do I do? I don’t want her to kill her chances of going to a good state university.
Worried in Warren
Dear Worried, It is not that hard to explain the popularity of “Stranger Things.” First, Extraterrestrials really like it, especially the group in Cleveland, not especially far from the Indiana town where it takes place. ETs are pretty rare on the ground; some prefer orbiting satellites. But they are major social media influencers, especially on Instagram. And the show, with its portals and different universes, reminds many of them of back home, the worlds they were exiled from for political and cultural infractions. Horror also popular among adults and kids because it’s reminiscent of what they see on the news; Arctic ice melting, droughts and freak weather, with hailstorms leaving southerly towns covered in ice in July, not to mention pointless wars and vicious social media trolling, particularly by higher ups. It’s nice to escape to horror which is only on a screen. It’s not real. Supposedly. Last is the power of fantasy. People get so mixed by shows like eighteenth-twentieth century shows like “Highlander” they start to think Continental troops invaded and secured airports in 1775. Many kids don’t know who fought the Civil War, even if they know all about Kim of Kimono fame. So our best advice is to cure an addiction by cutting the source. For at least a week, don’t allow any television of video watching by Any member of the family. German and Japanese news is okay, they really soft pedal the horrible stuff, but that’s it. Read newspapers and magazines. Go to parks. Take walks. Talk to each other. And make up your own bedtime stories, just using words and hands. Just try all the super boring stuff people used to do in dinosaur times. And tell your Britney to start writing her own stories, with real people, not just monsters. It may take a while, but our projections show her essays on how using fiction as therapy really impressing the Admissions committee at Ohio U.