While I was curled up on my couch last Sunday, eating the remnants of the Halloween candy I had and watching the long anticipated second season of Stranger Things, I realized something big: The cast of Stranger Things is primarily male, however the most badass and influential characters are female.
I recently watched a speech given by Reese Witherspoon at the annual Glamour “Woman of the Year” gala. The focus of her speech was that when women are given the opportunity and a voice, an actual dialogue can be had and that dialogue can then be put into a movie. Her prime example was this: In any movie [written by a man] there is almost always inevitably a scene where the women turns to the man and sighs, “What are we going to do now?”
Reese Witherspoon gave a fire speech at our Women of the Year Awards in 2015. Tune in LIVE to Women of the Year 2017 with an RSVP to the event here: http://glmr.co/dde9f00
Posted by Glamour on Wednesday, October 25, 2017
So let’s return to me laying on my couch six episodes in, wrappers laying around me and my blanket around my shoulders due to the chills I keep getting scene after scene. This speech is fresh in my mind and I’m looking at this season through the lens of “are these female characters being represented accurately?” The answer: hell yeah.
Elle, Joyce, Nancy, Max and Barbara are the only main female characters, yet they hold the entire show together.
I’m going to insert a disclaimer here to say that I am going to try my hardest not to include any big spoilers for the second season however…it’s been out for like two weeks now, what do you have a life or something?? Go watch it!
We all know Eleven, Elle for short, is an Eggo-eating badass who doesn’t let anyone get in her way. And while she and the group of boys are at the center of the show, the other women of Stranger Things quite often steal the spotlight and show just how (once again) badass women truly are.
Eleven’s story is nothing but tragic. She was torn away from her family as a child and continuously tested on in a laboratory. She has psychokinetic abilities but they are continuously being taken advantage of.
So what was Elle going to do now?
Well, she single-handedly reeks havoc and revenge on so many of the people that did her wrong at the end of season one. And at the very end of the first season, she sacrificed herself for her friends and loved ones in the small town of Hawkins Indiana…that she had pretty much just met.
If that is not the epitome of just the most powerful female role written for television, I really don’t know what is. Not to mention the lead female role is for a girl in middle school.
Next up is arguably one of the most loving mothers of all time, Joyce Byers. She is the textbook definition of women’s resilience. Not only is she a single mother, working full time to take care of her boys, but she also takes no shit. Especially when her son, Will goes missing.
So what was Joyce going to do now?
Well, she takes action. After getting absolutely no help from those she reached out to for help, she uses shall we say, alternative methods, to solve her problems and bring her son home. She strings together those iconic Christmas lights above letters and finds that through that she can communicate and help her son, herself and her son’s friends. Not only does she assume a mother’s role of a protector, she blows me away with how far she will go to assume that role, just going back to my point that she really just exudes the concept of female resilience.
Nancy was a character that I felt like I could most relate to, due to our closeness in age and relating problems. Nancy begins the show like a poorly written teenage female. She is annoyed at her little brother and his friends, likes to hide behind closed doors, and will do anything to have her crush notice her-but when her brother’s friend goes missing her priorities change.
So what was Nancy going to do now?
Nancy risks her brimming social life to befriend Will’s brother, an outcast, and goes out of her way to comfort him and help him in his quest to find his brother. She faces criticism from her new “cool” friends and her boyfriend as well as from her best friend Barbara (the biggest rest in piece is due here, I loved mom-jean wearing Barbara with my whole heart and I would have traded Will back into the Upside Down to have Barbara back on the show, no offense Will).
Also, one of the most badass moments of Season 2 is when Jim Hopper (the Sheriff) looks to a room with almost the full cast asking who can shoot a gun, and the only one who replies is Nancy. She takes the rifle when neither of the teenage boys or adult cast members speak up which just shows Nancy’s strength.
The newest character introduced in season two is Max. She’s an outsider from California that is “different” from other girls. She demolishes the main cast of boys at the arcade and after being tracked by the boys, finally confronts them. She does not deal with any of their group tactics against her. At only a middle school level, she is the equivalent version of a badass that I would have wanted to be at that age.
However, she has a difficult past. Her step-brother is abused by their father and by default, takes it out onto her.
So what was Max going to do now?
Well at the end of the season, she decides to take absolutely no shit from her brother. After he comes over to Will’s house and tries to fight Steve, she helps Steve get him onto the ground, and when he looks up, the gif above is what he sees. Can you say badass?
All of these women exude typical characteristics of women characters: resilience, comforters, mothers, sisters and daughters, however I commend the writers for making these characters relatable and strong. These actresses that are no older than 14 years are my feminist icons.
Also, not to completely cut the boys out of this article, they just had the cutest feature on James Corden show. They framed it as a VH1 “Behind the Scenes” episode, as a tale of the Mo-town band the “Upside-Downs.” Below you can see how they came together and hear them perform Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and the Temptations’s “My Girl.”