Stranger Things is a catchall vision of the 1980s in which the government is conducting freaky mind experiments on children and creatures from a parallel dimension are running amok in Hawkins, Indiana. The clothes, props, and sets look amazing, and they’re good enough to inspire nostalgia in viewers who weren’t even alive in the greatest decade - but how accurate is Stranger Things to the '80s?
The crew behind the series puts in a crazy amount of work to make Stranger Things look as period-accurate as possible, including the Starcourt Mall where the kids hang out in Season 3, but sometimes anachronisms slip through. Don't let this ruin the show for you - it's still a lot of fun and there's nothing wrong with jamming to the Smiths a year before their first album was released. Whether it’s cars, songs, or toys, these items shouldn’t exist in Stranger Things.
In Season 1, episode 4, Sheriff Hopper notes that Joyce Byers takes Prozac for her anxiety; however, the antidepressant wasn't avalable until 1987, four years after the events of the series.
It's likely that this anachronism is just to keep the dialogue moving without having to stop and explain that people suffering from anxiety issues used different medications than what's available now.
In Season 2, the boys get into Ghostbusters in a big way. In the Halloween episode, they even dress up like the characters in homemade outfits with DIY versions of the group's trap and proton packs.
Some of this is period-accurate - there were no licensed Ghostbusters outfits or toys for years - but the boys still shouldn't be calling the proton packs by their colloquial names.
In the first film, proton packs are described as "positron colliders," and it's not until the sequel (1989) that they are referred to as proton packs.
In the back half of Season 2, Joyce does her best to remind Will who he is in order to purge the creature from the Upside Down that's using him to spy on everyone.
She asks if he remembers the 120-crayon box she bought him when he was 8, which would have been in 1979. However, at the time, the largest amount of crayons that Crayola sold was a box of 79.
Crayola didn't offer the box of 120 colors until the early '90s. Joyce is a great mom, but she doesn't have a time machine.
In an opening scene of Season 2, Steve and Nancy are having dinner and enjoying a big bucket of "KFC." Steve even says, "I love KFC."
As agreeable as Steve is, he couldn't have professed his love for KFC, because it was called Kentucky Fried Chicken all the way until 1991. Prior to that, the graphics for the company read "Kentucky Fried Chicken, " not "KFC."
The company never technically changed their name, just their branding. They felt that it was easier for people to remember and to say.