It’s been awhile… so I’m back with this:
I have, like many people, watched and loved Stranger Things. I have, like many people, had a hard time with how Winona Ryder played her character… at first.
Spoilers may happen below. But I will try to keep it subtle.
In the first episode or two, the frenzied panic of Joyce Byers irked me. Then, a hard truth sunk in. If anyone has the right to be frenzied and panicked, it is a parent whose child is missing. All the more if local law enforcement, who is responsible for finding said child, seems apathetic.
I pictured my dad. His son was dead, a hard reality but one with more clarity than a missing child where time may be of the essence. The police were actively on the case from the start. They were very empathetic and supportive to my parents. There was a chunk of time during which they could not give us details because the investigation was sensitive, but it wasn’t due to apathy. They found the man who killed my brother, he confessed, and is currently in prison. All along my dad experienced various stages of anger and frustration. “Why aren’t they doing more?” “Why are they lowering his sentence?” “Why…” He does not normally have a nervous disposition. He does not normally react in anger when things get hard. But this was different. This was his child.
Joyce lives life with the nervous disposition of a poor, single mother of two. Even through the flashbacks, we see a glimpse of the fact that her life is stressful and that she doesn’t always handle it well. Throw on top of that the events in the first episode. It is perfectly believable that she would have a complete breakdown in desperation of seeing her boy again.
I late came across this article. Riddled with more spoilers, but with a good analysis of the women in the show, including Joyce.
Sometimes it makes us uncomfortable when Hollywood bypasses calculated grief to show the authentic grief of a parent in distress.