WARNING! Before you go any further, spoiler alert! This article is my personal reflection on the characters of “Stranger Things” with a focus on female representation. Feel free to share your thoughts on all of the characters in the comments section. And don’t say I didn’t warn you! This article will contain revealing information about the plot.
I pressed play to the first episode of “Stranger Things” almost sure I would not enjoy it that much. Like “Orange Is The New Black,” “Jessica Jones,” “Narcos,” and others, Netflix’s original series have their releases along with an intense hype that takes over the internet instantly. The moment you haven’t watched the show or at least know what it’s about, you become off the loop, an outsider. That same hype creates high expectations for those of us that do not jump on the bandwagon as soon as it takes off.
I do love horror, especial that of the ‘80s, but anything with children scare me (within horror that is). Once you see someone talking about “Stranger Things,” you’ll most likely hear them glorifying their favorite character, and I guarantee it will be probably one of the kids, or claiming they’ve adopted them all. Not weird at all, I assume. For that and the undying hype, I wasn’t so sure if the series would captivate me. Oh how wrong, was I.
“Stranger Things” is captivating from the get-go. While it interested me with its plot, it grabbed me with its characters, especially the females of the series. As a cis-girl myself, I almost instantly look for female representation and a female character I can love in anything I watch or read. “Stranger Things” gifted me with not one, but a handful of females I could adore and idolize. But I wonder, is it so strange in the world we live in today to have females save the day? While I was hoping for Eleven to be my go-to girl power representation in “Stranger Things,” I was strangely awarded with options from which I could pick a favorite.
The strangest thing, however, was that each of these women represented a different “type,” a different kind of female. Never stuck to one clichê or characterization, the women of “Stranger Things” are here to not only steal your hearts, but to save your ass. Without further ado, here’s my “Top 5 Female Characters from ‘Stranger Things!’”
5. Karen Wheeler
Mrs. Wheeler is the the first of our beloved moms. While her daughter Nancy (more to come later!) nearly discredits her, claiming she has married young to an older men with a “cushy job” so they could live their suburban lives, she takes no rests when it comes to protecting her children. Always with Holly in her arms, Mrs. Wheeler never fails to stand by her three kids in order to protect them, even if that means threatening government officials as they search her house. Her protective powers are shown as Mike tells Eleven his mom will make it alright, his mom will take care of them. As the boy is trying to calm his new friend, he guarantees that, in the end, once his mom knows everything, she will make it all better. Mike knows his mom can save the day.
4. Barbara Holland
We sure did not get nearly enough Barb as we deserved. Barb is Nancy’s best friend and, quite honestly, the best friend we all hope to be and wish we had. As her best friend finds a new set of friends due to her new boyfriend, Barb remains next to her, even cracking a few jokes about Nancy’s inevitable “popular girl” status as she dates Steve Harrington. Barb is the personification of the great friend. While she is not too crazy about Steve’s party, she takes Nancy as even tries a beer of her own. However, she stands firm on the reason why she’s there, and waits for her friend Nancy even after she’s hurt. Sadly, that does not do her much good on the series, but she has sure entered our hearts as our dear best friend.
3. Nancy Wheeler
As the series starts off, you get fooled thinking Nancy will be a teenage girl worried about her boyfriend and her boyfriend only. That is true for the first few episodes, but it changes the second her friend goes missing and Mr. Boyfriend mistreats Jonathan Byers. Nancy is a fierce best friend and sister that will fight monsters if that means saving her best friend and brother. She creates an alliance with Jonathan and outsmarts the monster, even when her boyfriend nearly ruins their trap. Nancy Wheeler proves that the girl you think is your average suburban girl can end up being your heroine.
2. Joyce Byers
Joyce Byers is, like Karen Wheeler, a super-mom. Joyce is the first one not to give up on her kid, Will, and to connect with the Upside Down (aside from Eleven, of course). While her entire town believes she is crazy, she perseveres and discovers a way all of her own to communicate with Will. As she walks into Hop’s office, furious and nervous, eager to find her son, she delivers the beautiful line that defines the show; what about the one time that a child goes missing and they’re not with a parent or relative? Joyce is sure she can feel her son and she never gives up until she finds Will, a leading example of perseverance and proof that us girls can fight thought being labeled as insane once we believe in something no one else knows to be true.
What an incredible young girl. I challenge thee not to fall in love with Eleven, El for short, the first moment you see her. At first, you might not click and label her as a “her” due to her short hair, but this young lady is a fighter. El has been kept from a childhood as we know it and has yet to learn concepts such as friendship, but she is willing to give her own life in order to protect the boy that saved her. She calls herself the monster throughout the series, pushing back her powers and the unknown. However, once it comes to saving the day, El is the only one that’s able to defeat the real monster and escape yet again from those that have tortured her. This beautiful, short-haired super-heroine can kick a monster’s ass any day, any time, even if that monster is just a middle school bully.
If you have watched “Stranger Things,” I hope you’ve had the same incredible (yet short) experience as I did meeting these extraordinary characters. If you haven’t, I hope you will soon and love it just as much. Netflix has, yet again, hit the spot and gifted us with an incredible series. As we wait one, two years for the next season, let us watch those short eight episodes again and again as five kids, two teens, a mom and a police chief fight and conquer a monster. While society still tells us girls to find a prince charming to save us, “Stranger Things” diverges from the common view and proves that girl have enough on their own to fight (and win!) their own battles. We are, as strange as you might think it is, as capable as anyone else.