8 Things I Learned While Binge Watching "Are You Afraid of the Dark?"

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story...
Publish date:
November 24, 2014

I got stuck in Tokyo on Halloween night.

I'm not exactly complaining about it, but by 4:45 a.m. on November 1st, when the train to Yokohama started running again, I was feeling every single second of my 33 years. I'm no stranger to late nights, but they are usually spent in my pajamas with a bowl of Night Cheese, and seven seasons of (fill in the TV series) at my fingertips.

From what I understand this is a very normal thing around here -- you miss the last train, you party all night. Get another drink from the convenience store (whatever bars, the party was in the streets), find some like-minded weirdos, and get over it.

This lady was lurking all night long.

She lurked, crept, and gently tapped people as she sauntered silently through the crowd. I found her both friendly and foreboding. We kept catching each other's eye.

So this is love, hmmm...I'm all aglow, hmmm... ("Cinderella" y'all)

I may have been tired, hungry, and drunk from crankiness, but this Yurei and I were meant to be.

My husband and I got home at 6 a.m., where I promptly fell asleep with contented visions of a day lost to sloth dancing in my head.

But no friends, the day was not lost! Tokyo and Madame Yurei may have wore me out, but it also got me in the mood for some spooky, scary, pre-teen friendly stories.

Amazon Prime Instant Video has six volumes of that Canadian treasure, "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" currently available without additional purchase. I will not judge you if you stop reading here and go watch it.

I spent the day hanging with Gary (so smart, so sensitive, so glasses), Betty Ann, Frank, Kiki (wanted to be her), Tucker (he's like, SO ANNOYING!), Sam, Kristen, Stig, and Eric. You might know them better as the Midnight Society.

And while not all the stories left me exactly afraid of the dark, I did learn some vital truths the Midnight Society may or may not want you to know.

So if you find yourself in (grabs Gary's purse, throws powder, fire roars) "The Tale of the Rueful Reader," keep the following in mind and you just...might...SURVIVE. (Dissolve into kids moving into a new house because they're ALWAYS moving into a new house.)

1. Your new home or neighborhood harbors a terrible secret.

Especially if Tatyana Ali used to live there. (The Tale of the Quicksilver)

It's probably a mysterious death, brought on by stupid meddling grown-ups, but it's probably Old Man Corcoran (The Tale of Old Man Corcoran).

Stay out of the basement, the attic, your bedroom, the cemetery, or the secret compartment you find while being a bored ’90s kid.

2. Bandanas = tough kids


More badass.


Ripped or patched-up denim helps too. Was Punky Brewster their model for adolescent rebellion?

3. Everything is too good to be true all the time.

Cancel your vacation, your job is trying to kill you, and those cool kids don't really want to be your friends, NERDSACK. If it makes you happy, it CAN be that bad.

Your new best friend is dead (The Tale of Apartment 214), your art teacher wants to steal your soul (The Tale of the Unfinished Painting), and oh, acting makes you happy? How about life as a Changeling? Eat your spider and be grateful you have it. (The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun)

4. Parents just don't understand.

Same goes for teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, policemen, doctors, aliens, coaches -- almost any adult in a position of authority.

Did executive producer DJ MacHale have a spreadsheet of all the different ways to say, "Oh, not this ghost business again! That's it young lady/man, I don't want to hear another word about this!"

Terrified Kid in Mortal Danger: "But Mom!" (Usually it's the mom)

Disbelieving Mom: "There are no such things as ghosts! Now scoot! You're going to be late for school!"

5. Whatever you do, don't wish for anything.

Your hopes, dreams, passions are too dangerous. Dream big, die big.

While in most stories the smarter-than-your-average-kid hero escapes doom at the last minute by doing the right thing, owning up to their mistakes, or by science (The Tale of the Dead Man's Float), they often get in that position by DARING to want something really, really ridiculously bad.

Doesn't matter if you just want the PERFECT April Fool's gag (The Tale of the Super Specs) or that you want to save your beloved movie theatre (The Tale of the Midnight Madness), you should have been grateful for what you had and now you shall be punished.


Okay, this basically spans all teen dramas forever and ever amen, but in the AYAD world no kids drew so much ire as the slightly awkward, sensitive good kid, or NERD.

In seconds flat, a cool kid (the taller the hair the closer to DJ MacHale) will make it their business to not just torment but DESTROY the nerd. It can actually be a little upsetting at times, despite the cool kid jabs being always in the realm of (DJ MacHale and his band of writers look to their spreadsheet), "If you think you're going to hang out with me and MY friends this summer? You got another thing coming, booger breath!"

While cool kids are generally not to be trusted, know that they have a choice: they can either team up with Booger Breath or pay the price. (The Tale of the Lonely Ghost, The Tale of the Crimson Clown)

The bigger the eyeroll the harder they fall.

7. Gifts + weirdos = bad

Remember how grown-ups just don't understand?

If an eccentric grown-up (shiny clothes, leather, vests, leather vests, old age, long hair on men, magical ’90s beauty) gives you anything, just say no. ESPECIALLY if you've been an asshole.

A vulture's claw may seem like a fair substitution for that full sized Snickers bar you wanted while trick-or-treating on Halloween, but you'd be wrong. Not only will it not satisfy the hunger, but you'll break the track star's leg and woe be to your parents if they piss you off. (What did I say about wishing for stuff?)

Walk away from the comic book (The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner), put down the old timey camera (The Tale of the Curious Camera).

You're just going to make things worse.

8. Do any stories "submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society" not get approved?

OK, this isn't really a truth, but I genuinely want to know.

Everyone "submits" a story, but does our fearless leader, Gary, ever really say, "Sorry Betty Ann, we're on to your tricks. You're on probation. Gary has spoken."

I guess that kind of happened to Stig. Poor Stig, I liked his stories. (The Tale of the Dead Man's Float, The Tale of Station 109.1) But you don't cross Kiki.

If you grew up with "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" you'll get a thrill out of revisiting some of the episodes that scared you as a kid, and frankly, still might creep you out a bit. "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" and "The Tale of the Super Specs" were two of my favorites back during my years on the "big orange couch" with "SNICK." Hold me Gary.

What were your favorite episodes? Who was your favorite member of the Midnight Society? Did anyone else try to start their own Midnight Society? Anybody still want to?

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed.