There are many reasons to watch Stranger Things on Netflix. It’s one of the only shows I know that uses Dungeons and Dragons as a narrative structure, and the soundtrack composed of 80s hits means each episode is as fun to listen to as it is to watch.
What I wasn’t expecting to find on the list of pros was an heartfelt depiction of how to be a good queer ally. So fair warning, this post will be discussing some spoilers that happen in seasons 3 and 4 of Stranger Things.
The LGBTQ+ representation in Stranger Things doesn’t really start until season three, but it dives right in. Steve Harrington’s coworker Robin (played by Maya Hawke) comes out as lesbian in episode seven.
From that point on, Steve (Joe Keery) earnestly treats her as he would any best friend. He respects her identity and keeps her secret to himself. And, perhaps more importantly as many friends would, he teases her for her choice of crush. We see their relationship develop further in season four shows him listening to her fears and encouraging her to approach her.
Season four also builds on the relationship between Will (Noah Schnapp) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard). While the explicit representation we see with Robin isn’t present, Will’s conflict over his romantic feelings for Mike is clear.
So clear, in fact, that even his older brother Jonathan (played by Charlie Heaton) picks up on it. Jonathan has a heart-to-heart with Will where he tells him he will always be there for him, no matter what, and he wishes they would talk more. This promise, especially on top of Jonathan’s encouragement for Will to embrace his “freak” status in season two, holds even more weight now.
Of course the LGBTQ+ representation means a lot. It always does, and I am still grateful for what Stranger Things is doing (as long as they don’t back down from the queer subtext Will has, of course). But the added representation of the support system a queer person needs is a refreshing addition to the show that I think elevates it. The show’s message has always been about the power of friendship in the face of great evils, and the allyship demonstrated by both Steve and Jonathan adds to that theme.
Written by Communications and Marketing Intern, Elizabeth Carr