Turning The Exorcist’s Heteropatriarchal Order ‘Upside Down’ in Stranger Things

Turning The Exorcist’s Heteropatriarchal Order ‘Upside Down’ in Stranger Things

Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon

The popular Netflix series Stranger Things is often-noted for critiquing  homophobia and conservative gender norms. This paper argues that the series—primarily the second season—actively dialogues with The Exorcist to upend the Christian heteropatriarchal order that the film attempted to restore. In contrast to The Exorcist’s Chris MacNeil, the character Joyce Byers, a single mother, discredits the only known religious professional in the fictional town and demonstrates a distrust for the male scientists before exorcising herself the MindFlayer out of her son. Resonating with the demon that possesses MacNeil’s daughter Regan, who self-identifies as the Devil, the Mind Flayer’s soldier Demorgorgons physically resemble Christian depictions of Satan. But, while the Devil in The Exorcist functions to literally demonize Regan’s lesbian sex acts, the Stranger Things monsters are often read as a metaphor for homophobia.

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