For anyone with a Netflix account, the sci-fi hit Stranger Things monopolized your TV show conversations this past summer. The eight-part series paid homage to several hallmarks of 80’s fiction—Stephen King (in the title card font), John Carpenter (in the incredible synthesizer score by Austin-based band SURVIVE), and, most notably, the Steven Spielberg-produced family films that were largely put out by the director’s Amblin production wing (there are generous doses of E.T., The Goonies, and Poltergeist scattered throughout). The story follows the strange goings-on in small town Indiana after the mysterious disappearance of a young boy named Will Beyers. Recently, the YouTube animation channel OnlyLeigh posted a video that took the already nostalgia-ridden show and combined it with another classic that’s sure to make viewers fondly recall their childhoods: A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The short, titled Merry Christmas, Will Beyers follows the action of Stranger Things’ first season, which (spoilers ahead for any people who have been living under a rock since July) left us with Will, freshly rescued from the Upside Down, puking up an insidious-looking inky organism into his bathroom sink. In the Peanuts-universe, Will is a melancholic Charlie Brown, consulting his even-tempered friend Dustin (fittingly cast as the wise-beyond-his-years Linus-type here) about his post Demogorgon malaise. “Maybe what you really need is some good psychiatric help,” he advises, after Will coughs up a big hunk of alien phlegm. This leads him, of course, to a stand similar to the one Lucy operates in the Peanuts comics and Christmas special. Instead of the bossy, opinionated Lucy, however, telekinetic Eleven “is in,” as the resident doctor and advice-giver, offering a one-word answer that does little to ease young Will’s mind.
The two pop culture favorites match up surprisingly well, with a number of quick gags sure to please fans of both. On his quest for comfort, Will comes across many of the Stranger Things universe’s Peanuts’ equivalents, including his own mother (played by Winona Ryder in the series) as an unseen, wah-wah trombone spouting authority figure. And that great SURVIVE soundtrack cuts through the iconic Vince Gueraldi jazz piano of the Peanuts special as a Finn-Schroeder hybrid plays his plugged-in player piano. (The Stranger Things-cast-as-Peanuts-characters all dance anachronistically to moody analogue synths). Even Snoopy is replaced with an almost-adorable tiny Demogorgon, perched in typical fashion on top of the doghouse in Will’s backyard.
In the end, just as Charlie Brown learns a lesson, so does Will as he acknowledges, “the folks who would do anything to get you out of a creepy parallel swamp universe.” Cut to poor fan-favorite Barb, left in the Upside Down, muttering “Good grief.” Because if anyone is going to be the Charlie Brown of the Stranger Things universe, it should probably be Barb.