While the Stranger Things-set town of Hawkins doesn't actually exist, the state of Indiana most certainly does. In celebration of the return of Netflix's calling card, people who actually lived through 1980s Indiana have shared some insight on mall life—a focal point of the new season—with an emphasis on the real-life horrors therein.
The terrors detailed in Thursday's release-timed Indianapolis Star piece range from peskily flirtatious pizza makers to "disturbing" photos being discovered at a photo printer, with a particular note of interest from a former Castleton Square employee on the general creepiness of hidden hallways.
"You could not go get a slice of pizza and a soda without being asked out," Vicki Bohlsen, recalling her '80s experiences at Greenwood Park food court, told the Star. "Honestly, it was frightening to me." Interestingly, this facet is indeed represented in the new season.
As for those creepy utility hallways, ex Lazarus department store worker Jennifer Shirk said the new batch of Stranger Things could (and, no spoilers, actually does) put that to good use to balance the faux sheen of the shopping mall experience.
"There's some utility back hallways you could get to, even if you didn't work at the mall," she said. "That was pretty creepy. That's the thing that keeps the whole thing running. It has to be there. But you think, 'Man, there could be anything in here.'"
Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of this '80s mall nostalgia fest, however, is the grueling description one Bohlsen gave of pre-smartphone human interactions at the mall.
"Back in the '80s, we had to pick up the regular phone and call and arrange," she said, harrowingly.
The piece also gives prospective Indiana enthusiasts a rundown of actual malls to visit in the state, as the Stranger Things location of Starcourt Mall is unfortunately not real. Starcourt's size is also pointed out as likely unrealistic, given the size of the fictional town of Hawkins and the general unlikeliness of a multi-level mall.
At any rate, the spoiler-free look at actual Indiana can be perused in full here.