Rhode Island: HP Lovecraft inspiration
Rhode Island’s connection to Stranger Things is due to someone who has a less than great history despite how well-known his work is. H.P. Lovecraft was born in Rhode Island, and according to one New Yorker article, the show features some of the same traits as his stories.
Many of Lovecraft’s stories had the villain be something from somewhere else. Something from another planet or another universe. Something that wasn’t human or “us.” Stranger Things is similar in that way. The Mind Flayer and the Demogorgon aren’t from our world; they’re from the Upside-Down, from another dimension. They look nothing like us.
Even when The Mind Flayer takes over other peoples’ bodies, there is something off about them that is, eventually, recognizable to other people. They notice something unusual or un-human in them and that gives off the same Lovecraft idea as well.
Lovecraft also loves to show with his stories that an entire civilization that’s unlike us is just on the other side of something. Whether that be a wall like when Joyce takes down the wallpaper and finds a membrane to the Upside-Down underneath or whether that’s like Nancy going into a tree to the other world.
The New Yorker article states that many of the movies that inspired Stranger Things “are, essentially, Lovecraft in suburbia: they take lurid, paranoid fantasies inspired by America’s Puritan, colonial, and racist past and soften them, letting them unfold in a more innocent context.”
That being said, Lucas and Erica would not be the heroes in Lovecraft’s stories as he was a complete and utter racist. While there definitely could be more representation in Stranger Things and the show could certainly bring up the issues at the time, the Lovecraft model doesn’t fit entirely.