'Stranger Things' just got real, Energy Dept. emails show

A journalist uncovers what Energy Department employees had to say about the hit Netflix sci-fi series.

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Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
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Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine, right) and his staff of scientists at Hawkins Laboratory have a lot to answer for in "Stranger Things."


Many "Stranger Things" fans have already dissected the first season of the hit Netflix series ad nauseam, but it's comforting to know real-life employees of the US Department of Energy are as obsessed with the show as everyone else.

It makes sense, since one of the main villains in the series heads up a covert lab working under the directive of the Department of Energy. The success of "Stranger Things" even convinced Paul Lester, a digital content specialist for the DOE, to write a blog post citing all the inaccuracies in the show's portrayal of his department.

But it turns out not everything in the sci-fi/horror series was too far off base.

Washington Free Beacon journalist Lachlan Markay used a Freedom of Information Act request -- which lets US citizens ask for information from the federal government to research everything from UFO sightings to NSA security documents -- to find out what the Energy Department was saying about "Stranger Things."

"I FOIA'd DOE's public affairs office for internal talk of Netflix's 'Stranger Things,'" Markay tweeted on Thursday. "This is...more than I expected."

Markey found some interesting commentary that contradicts Lester's blog post about the DOE's past interest in everything from making weapons to parallel universes.

"It's not true that 'the Energy Department doesn't explore parallel universes,'" Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz wrote to a public affairs staffer. "We support theoretical physicists/cosmologists through the Office of Science High Energy Physics program, some of whom almost certainly are doing a fair amount of research on parallel universes."

In a heavily censored email from DOE employee John Larue, Markay also discovered the DOE may make weapons and has conducted human experiments.

"There is some really eyebrow-raising stuff in the history of the atomic energy commission, in which yes, the AEC did do human experiments, or participated with the military (example: soldiers were in trenches near some nuclear tests)," Larue wrote. "Not sure when these ended, and to this day, we provide healthcare to people in various Pacific islands affected by nuclear tests."

On a lighter note, many of the staffer emails were complaints about Lester's blog post revealing way too many "Stranger Things" spoilers.

When the DOE found out about Markay using the FOIA to dig up any dirt about the agency's true feelings about "Stranger Things," they responded in the most hilarious way possible.

"Lachlan, no matter what you write, it won't bring Barb back. #JusticeForBarb" DOE Press Staff tweeted on Thursday.

The next season of "Stranger Things" will debut in 2017, and we've already got plenty of theories on what will happen to Eleven, Chief Hopper and the Byers family.