|Courtesy of Tarik R. Davis|
The Netflix series Stranger Things received immediate points for its nostaglic accuracy. Everything eighties that is fantasy, science fiction, and horror spiraling kids into a web of government conspiracies and multiple dimensions with demogorgons, became an inevitable profit flood for the streaming services' core demographic who was that age at that time. As exciting as it has been seeing The Goonies/Alien/E.T. hybrid homage get a polish, Stranger Things also gets so right what was so wrong about this period; tokenism.
In season one, some of us monitored the way Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), the black kid in the core group, navigate his primarily white school, neighborhoods, and social settings. Season two brought us the great Ghostbusters debate, where Lucas and one of his white friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) had heated words over the idea of defaulting Lucas to a Black character. By Lucas' standards, Winston Zeddmore was not a desirable Ghostbuster to emulate. He was a late-comer and not a scientist. Brandon Lamar in an essay for Shadow And Act noted this and while interpreting further, saw this exchange as anti-Black rhetoric swirling in Lucas' inner dialogue and outer reality where he seems to exclusively run in circles with peers who look nothing like him.
To fill a void that the Duffer Brothers just cannot, a one-man short from actor/writer Tarik R. Davis bets on Black. By zeroing in on a moment in season three where Lucas' younger sister Erica (Priah Ferguson), in all her frustratingly, sassy delivery, mentions an Uncle Jack and his party that she must be home for when she gets deep in the main plot. Uncle Jack may never make an official appearance. And Lucas grappling with his identity may never reach the screen to become a significant arc.
So Davis as Jack sits down in front of a camera that Lucas borrows from A.V. club and does what many an uncle do; rattling on about the past, but more importantly, plays as that ear of empathy and solidarity I'm certain many of us wish Lucas had. If anything great comes out of Stranger Things' blindspots, it is a smartly passionate monologue like "My Crazy Uncle Jack" that finds those missing pieces to rectify what the show leaves so glaringly open-ended.
Check it out below!