Stranger Things has the perfect formula for success — kids riding bikes while on a mission, an Evil Dead reference, and synths. Beyond the aforementioned holy trifecta, Netflix’s horror/sci-fi hit has charm oozing from the dozens of references to Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and ’80s pop culture. It’s a period piece and a love letter to the Hollywood Midwest terrorized by boogeymen over the last 40 years.
Beyond being the best X-Files Monster of the Week extended episode ever, Stranger Things is a loose tribute to Indiana. You know, Hollywood’s Indiana. Eerie Indiana. The train tracks are just a bike ride away and you can smell the burned leaves piercing the crisp perpetual fall.
Writer, director, executive producers the Duffer brothers have jam-packed a full eight hours of horror and pop culture references into Stranger Things, so it’s entirely possible that Steve Harrington, Nancy’s flame, and possible future long-time boyfriend, is the father of Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation.
On this subject, I have two theories.
Steve is Jean-Ralphio’s real father.
This theory is based on the belief that Dr. Saperstein is not Jean-Ralphio’s real father. We don’t know yet, but considering how the denizens of Hawkins, Indiana don’t seem to be through with the dark entity unleashed upon them, it’s safe to say Steve will eventually be taken to his doom, or will completely lose his mind.
In the latter case, perhaps Steve shames the family with his gasoline buying, nailbat-making ways. He goes to the psych ward (or is eaten by a monster) with Nancy following in his footsteps. However, they have twins — Jean-Ralphio.
In swoops Steve’s brother (Dr. Saperstein) who was away at medical school. He raises little Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa, his real daughter, changing their names to shield the family from a prying media and Steve’s (rightful) madness. They pick up and move to nearby Pawnee, where Dr. Saperstein holds dark secrets. That’s why he spoils his children. He is a tragic figure.
Now, here’s the evidence for Jean-Ralphio being Steve and Nancy’s baby. Or as we’ll refer from here on out to as S+N=J-R.
Steve comes from money. He’s got the only heated outdoor pool I’ve ever seen in Indiana, and for whatever reason, his relative mansion is in close proximity to a home inhabited by an underpaid single mother. This is peak Indiana. It all makes sense geographically, too.
According to the Parks and Rec wiki, we know Pawnee, Indiana is located 90 miles from Indianapolis and 35 miles past Bloomington. Hawkins, Indiana is a hop, skip, and a jump from Indianapolis. We know this because Jonathan seeks out his father in the big city while looking for his brother Will, and is back home in time for dinner.