Stranger Things was the biggest and greatest surprise last year, and with this new season that was just released, Netflix has done it again. This show has rocked my life for a second time, and guys, this is not something that happens often. The first season, released last year 2016, was an ode to the 80’s and a hymn for nerds and outcasts. But this second time around, I couldn’t help but notice that what was a sidekick during season one, stomped into the room and stole the spotlight: GIRL POWER.
SPOILERS AHEAD! Read at your own risk!
Empowerment. Girl power. Feminism. Breaking stereotypes. Ripping apart gender roles.
This is something that is often discussed but quite honestly, it’s something I still don’t see enough in tv and cinema. Whereas in books, the heroine saves the day on a regular basis (or at least in the books I read, because I mostly and proudly read female authors), in the big screen this doesn’t happen as much as I wish. Or better said, in despite of how much this topic is discussed, this is something we still don’t see enough. Enough for it to actually change things. Change something.
So excuse me while I lift my arms and perform an embarrassing victory dance after binging through Stranger Things 2. Because this is the clear example of how to integrate all those elements and produce one of the best things I have ever seen. This show is not only entertaining, it is important. It’s important because it breaks stereotypes, it’s important because girls kick ass, it’s important because it shows how boys and men can be vulnerable, it’s important because the nerds often bullied save the day time and time again and, over all, it’s important because it EMPOWERS girls and boys. But mostly, GIRLS. Yes, you heard right. Feminism is important and I hope you are ready because I am exceptionally good at feminist rants. Check my post about feminism, the f word we should all talk about.
My point is, while everything season 1 embraced was 80’s nostalgia, nerd culture and a kickass girl with some serious powers, season 2 turned it upside down and delivered the most delicious girl power statement I have seen in a long while. All the potential that could be noticed layered in between every line last year, resurfaced for this new season to rock our world – and bring back punk and black eyeliner.
Why Stranger Things is the greatest thing ever and how it empowers girls
Eleven. Because different can fit and her badassery saves the day once again
This is not a surprise. During the first season, the whole world cheered for sweet kickass Eleven. And right here is where it laid the potential I was talking about. How many shows can you name where the heroine – and I repeat, hero-INE – is the one saving everybody else? Not the hero’s badass love interest, not the perfect female companion to a hero, not a team of heroes that includes some badass females. The. Heroine. As simple as that. Simplifying things to the minimum, without Eleven that demogorgon would have eaten all of Hawkins inhabitants and it would be knocking on your door right now. Knock knock, Eleven to the rescue. And don’t get me started on the fact that El is not your typical little girl in brides, from character traits to the way she represents being out of place and lost in the normal world, her character sets an example: different is ok. Different can fit. Different can find their place in the world. And girls can be different, feminine if they want to, and still kick ass.
Joyce. Because mothers should be presidents
Give the woman a rest. Seriously. The amount of shit this poor woman has to clean up after every season. Jokes and messy houses aside, Joyce is one of the true heroes of the show. Her character goes from helpless mother that can’t cope with whatever took her son during season one, to a mother that will turn the upside-down up if that helps saving Will in the slightest. A mother is a powerful creature, folks. And in this case, we are talking about a single mom that is looked down at, so I just couldn’t be happier about Joyce’s transformation and what her character represents. There are no battles a mother will not fight.
Nancy. Because pretty girls can cut the bullshit and be in charge
AH Nance. You are not the bestest of friends, but after seeing how the guilt changed you I kind of like you now. Nancy was not my favourite last season, and quite honestly, she still isn’t. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to appreciate Nancy’s character. Or that I don’t ship her with Jonathan, but let’s stay focused. Nancy was a sucky friend to Barb, and you know how that story ended. Fortunately, losing someone like Barb not only gave us a hyped icon to print in our shirts, it also served a purpose. Without Barb’s disappearance in season 1, and later death, Nancy would have never become the strong young woman she is in season 2. One that takes charge, cuts the bullshit, owns her mistakes and knows how to shoot a rifle (contrary to the array of male characters her age).
Mad Max. Because girls can skate, play videogames and be the coolest thing ever
Some people complain about the introduction of Max’s character in the lives of our favourite nerd gang. And according to these people, Max was just unnecessary. Well allow me to disagree right there. Max was not only a plot device to add some drama between the boys. Neither was she a simple love interest. I think her character, as well as her terrifying and weirdly attractive brother, has a reason. Or at least, will have a reason. I believe both of them will serve a purpose that goes beyond love interests and drama. Having said that, even if we would consider Max just a simple plot device to make things more interesting, her character is still important. Once again, the writers introduce a strong female character that breaks stereotypes. A skater girl that loves video games and has a serious attitude. A girl that takes no shit from boys. A girl that refuses to be saved. And a girl that shows strength and vulnerability at the same time. All in all, a complex character that proves that girls can be different, complicated, cool and basically, just girls.
Kali, Eight, or the lost sister. Because even if a little bit unnecessary this is the epitome of girl power
A punk teenager in charge of an avenging team. I gotta say, fam, this was not my favourite subplot of the season. For a moment there, I was even scared after contemplating the possibility of Eleven staying in Chicago. Thankfully, the introduction of Eight and her punky gang served another purpose, or better said two purposes. One, Eleven realizes she is not the weapon they made her for. And two, her family is in Hawkins. Her home is in Hawkins. Let’s get to the point before I start tearing up. Eight is the epitome of girl power. Even if she is an anti-heroine. Another girl with superpowers? Count me in. But a girl that not only has superpowers but is in charge of a gang of outcasts looking for justice? Bless! Moral issues aside, Eight is yet another example of how Stranger Things brings down the stereotypes (or just go ahead and count the amount of female avenger super heroines on tv).
Lucas little sister. Because I am already waiting for the spin-off
I can’t help but love Lucas little sister. Let’s be honest, she has attitude with a capital A. This one most likely made the top 5 things I loved the most about Stranger Things 2. In this second season we get to know a little bit more about our favourite boy’s families, being Lucas sis my personal highlight. This is yet another great example of how this show shakes things up with the big brother – little sister dynamic. Her character is hilarious, smart, SASSY, and confident enough to make Lucas life just a little bit harder. OR in other words, another stereotype brought down to the mud.
Why Stranger Things is the greatest thing ever and how it breaks stereotypes
Hopper. Our favourite grumpy sheriff has a heart made of marshmallows
I have loved Hopper and all his imperfect self since the very beginning. I must confess, I may have a little crush on the big guy (sorry Bruce Willis, you are being replaced in my heart). But this doesn’t have anything to do with his dancing moves. Hopper is the clear example of how authority figures can mess up, father figures are far from perfect and dealing a supernatural preteen might blow up in your face. Quite literally. What I loved the most about Hopper is his newfounded relationship with Eleven. And particularly, the fact that he is not this representation of how a grown man is meant to protect and know better. His mistakes were obvious and chaotic, his behaviour stubborn and temperamental, and even if he wanted to protect Eleven, he accomplished the opposite. But who came around and apologised? Who was the one who realised his mistakes and owned up to them? Yup, Hopper.
Steve. Guys with great hair also have a heart (and see themselves in awkward situations)
I was not Steve’s biggest fan last season, but how could I? He was in the middle of my ship. He was the iceberg to my Nancy and Jonathan’s Titanic. But ah well, look at who was the one sinking after all. But everything happens for a reason, Steve. Who wants a girlfriend when you can have a bunch of nerdy preteens to babysit and save from demogorgons and evil dudes with revealing open shirts? (Seriously, Billy was physically unable to keep a shirt buttoned up). Steve’s character arc was probably my favourite in the show, if not my favourite in all the history of television. Yes, yes, I am a tad overdramatic. But think about it. From popular dude that has all the chicks to sweet boy with a broken heart that shares all his knowledge with a helpless nerdy preteen? Steve for the win.
Bob. The nerd that got the girl and died a hero
I could not believe my eyes, but they did it. They freaking pulled a Game of Thrones on us and killed off one of the nicest, purely good characters of the show. Bob, a true hero. Without him, Hopper, Joyce, Will and Mike would still be stuck in Hawkins Lab and become demogorgon’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or dinner, lunch and breakfast, given that the world would have been taken by the upside-down. Come on, don’t look at me like that, it was a good pun. Anyway, Bob proved that Hopper might be all manly with his rifle blowing demogorgon’s brains up, but who got them out of there? Bob’s programming skills. This very same nerd that couldn’t believe he got the girl was the one that located Hopper with his brainy skills for then saving the day once again. Unfortunately, he lacked the ninja skills necessary to save his ass, and that’s on your backs, Duffer brothers. Not cool, guys. Not cool.
Jonathan. Boys and men can show vulnerability
Last but not least, my former Stranger Things crush. It’s not like we saw much of Jonathan this time around. But even if my shipper heart is happy with the way things went for him, I must highlight something else about Jonathan’s character. Do you recall this scene where Joyce, Jonathan and Nancy are trying to save Will from the Shadow Monster by cranking up to the max the temperature in Hopper’s cabin? I couldn’t miss this little detail: it’s Jonathan the one looking for comfort in Nancy. It’s Jonathan’s head the one in the crook of Nancy’s head. It’s Jonathan the one hugging Nancy for dear life at the perspective of losing his little brother. It could have been the other way around, or maybe it could have been Jonathan’s comforting his mom and girlfriend. But it wasn’t. His character shows weakness, fear and utter vulnerability, and the women remain strong and comforting. Nothing further to add, your honour.
Finally, the gang. Lucas, Dustin, Mike and Will. They are the ones setting this show apart from any other show in the first place. You might have something to add to my post, or maybe something to complain about. Well, I might be busy rewatching this marvellous show and shopping for Stranger Things merchandising for a few hours – or days – so I’ll just reply later.