Photo credit: Netflix
Stranger Things has been routinely criticized for its uneven handling of racial aspects, with the most recent controversy coming as Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and his sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) are terrorized by white kids in their neighborhood of Hawkins, IN.
But TVLine sought to give McLaughlin his flowers amid the carnage by naming him their Performer of the Week for his performance in “Chapter Nine: The Piggyback.”
The site noted how McLaughlin has “brought a heretofore-unseen strength and anguish to Lucas,” adding that McLaughlin has adeptly played both Lucas’ good boy side and his darkness brought to forth by the series’ villain, Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower).
It was during a scene when Jason (Mason Dye) points a gun a Lucas (one of the more controversial parts of the series) that McLaughlin put even more of his acting ability on display.
“McLaughlin deftly balanced Lucas’ empathy for his grieving teammate with his anxiousness to keep him from upsetting the plan to vanquish Vecna,” according to the site. “Once it became obvious that the older teen was beyond reason, McLaughlin underscored just how much Lucas had grown. He stopped pleading, stood tall and expressed less regret over the fact that he’d ever wanted to be like Jason than anger. ‘Normal,’ Lucas had learned the hard way, ‘is just a raging psychopath.'”
The site also talked about how Lucas’ turn after Vecna assaulted Max (Sadie Sink), writing, “McLaughlin unleashed Lucas’ pain with a rawness and urgency that still haunts us. McLaughlin had just shown us what an empowered young man his alter ego had become. But seeing Max in such a state, he couldn’t help but sound like a little boy desperate to do something, anything to make it all better.”