A little context for The Day After. In September, the Soviets shot down Korean Airlines KAL007 killing 269 passengers and it looked like Andropov would do just about anything. In November, we saw The Day After. Then in December two articles published in Science described a "Nuclear Winter" in which even a small nuclear exchange would envelop the Earth in so much smoke and dust that the sun would be blocked out, crops would die, and people would freeze to death.
It was not a fun time.