‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Squelch Counter: TV’s Darkest Show

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You there: How many times a day do you squelch? In your life, how often do you hear a person, place or thing choking?

I imagine that unless you live an extraordinary life, you almost never choke. I bet you’ll go days, weeks, or even months, without a lone silencer. That is, unless you live in Hawkins, Indiana.

OK, yes, this is the fictional town of Strange things. But I dispute that this fucking town has more noise than anywhere else. It is invaded by squelches. And other horrors.

To crush!
Credit: Screenshot: Netflix

Let me back up and explain. As a general rule, I’m not a person who watches television with subtitles. But I started this season from stranger things with a family member who uses subtitles. And let me tell you, it’s unsettling how often things choke stranger things 4. No spoilers but my guy Vecna? This guy STILL stuffy. My guy is choking like it’s going out of fashion. He’s a wet boy. Why so soggy? Why so wet?

(A little housekeeping: to be clear, we’re talking about the definition of the sucking, wet sound of muffler, not the definition of suppressing something.)

At some point, I realized that I just had to track how often things, people, or murderous beings upside down fell apart. stranger things. Why did the squelch appear so often? It’s such a strange word. That’s an uncomfortable amount of a troubling word. Was it all in my head? What was happening?

Now that I had already watched part of the season and didn’t really trust my attention span to follow it live – ohhhh something shiny — I used a more scientific method. I ripped out the subtitle code for every episode this season, then converted it to plain text, which I then copy-pasted into Google docs. The results were sprawling, but searchable documents, which meant I could come up with words, you know, like “squelch” or “wet.”

My conclusion ? It was, indeed, a particularly sweltering and humid season of television.

Here is the data:

  • Total number of squelches: 11, an average of 1.57 squelches per episode

  • Total number of wets: 20, i.e. an average of 2.86 wets per episode.

Of course, that might not seem like a ton of squelching at face value. But I would say over 1.5 squelches per episode (SPE) is ridiculous. There’s probably no TV show on the air right now that even comes close to this EPS. Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! comes to mind as a potential contender – with its rude food noises – but that show ended years ago. stranger things has a level of wetness and goo that other programs simply can’t match.

Let’s really dig into the data. Here I made some really stupid graphics.

a chart showing the squelches per episode in stranger things

Episode 1 was the quietest.
Credit: Mashable / Tim Marcin / Datawrapper

As you can see, we got off to a flying start for the muffler. Four silencers in total in Episode 1. Those are Michael Jordan’s numbers. A muffled spit. Just like a body, half-disfigured. The end of the episode was a creepy wet quiet.

While none of the other six episodes have approached such silent heights, I’m holding out hope for the final two episodes which should drop in July. Episode 6 was an all-time high without any choking. That’s a shame.

Now here’s a chart for the wet ones.

wet tracking chart by episode in stranger things


Credit: Mashable / Tim Marcin / Datawrapper

As this graph shows, each episode of stranger things this season has been exceptionally wet. Things are soggy in Hawkins. What is so wet, exactly? Here are some of the wet captions that stood out:

Now, again, this may seem like I’m overestimating the weirdness of the muffler. But because I’m nothing if not a dedicated, high-minded journalist, I’ve delved into the matter. I downloaded this dataset of the 333,000 most common words, according to the Google Web Trillion Word Corpus. Squelch was used about as much as words like cordero or starfighter. Silencer, on the other hand, was used about as much as words like pufferfish or optional. The most commonly used word – the – appeared over 23 billion times while the squelch was around 220,000.

I’m not the first person to notice Stranger Things’ the subtitles are quite crude. Geek’s Lair, for example, wrote about it. People online have even noticed how often squelching happens, as have I.

It’s just such a rude and weird word, and then you see “damp muffler” and things get even more unsettling. It’s hard to miss. And, as the data shows, it’s part of almost every wet episode. So until Season 4 ends in July, we may not know what happens to our friends in Hawkins. But we can be sure of one thing: there will be a squelch.

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