I don’t know if you all have yet seen the Netflix Original series, Stranger Things. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. It’s got this Stephen King-meets-The Little Rascals feel to it, and the screenplay, acting, and soundtrack are all on point. It doesn’t overdo the cheesy damsel-in-distress-screaming-and-hiding sequence that is so common in the horror genre. In addition, all of the characters have refreshing depth and intelligence. It’s such a nice change from the usual white-family-in-denial about the monster in the closet until it comes out and eats the husband or whatever.
While I could wax poetic about a lot of things in this series (the examples of triggers! The little boys are so dialogic!), I really appreciate the examples of women standing up to men in this series. The three women who I would say are main characters (there’s more than one woman as a main character!) all have significant instances of telling the men in their lives to fuck off. This happens more than once, but I’ll explain three of my favorite moments here.
First, there is that time in episode 5 when Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) tells her good-for-nothing husband (Ross Partridge) to get the fuck out of her house.
I got really scared when the husband guy came back. For a second there, I thought he was going to stay for way too long and significantly derail Joyce’s life the way all sleazy exes do in TV shows (think Sex in the City and Friends). But no, not in this series. In this one, as soon as Joyce even suspects her husband is around just for money, she kicks his ass out. You go, girl.
On a tangent, I think this is one of the strengths of a shorter series. They can no longer prolong horrible relationships for the sake of drama and ratings. I am so thrilled that TV is heading toward the 8-12 episode range. I cannot tell you how tired I am of that Grey’s Anatomy tier, 22-episode season shit, where you had to endure a person’s sexism or racism for entire 4-5 episode arcs that made you want to tear your hair out.
Anyway, the second example: I am equally thrilled that Nancy (Natalia Dyer) stands her ground and hits Steve (Joe Keery) when he’s being an asshole in episode 6.
Yas, girl! So basically, when Steve and his friends decide to paint the town to slut-shame Nancy Wheeler, she hits him. And I LOVE it. This show does a great job of breaking down age barriers. Even the younger women give no fucks about putting men in their place. I love the message this sends–that teenaged girls do not have to take shit from immature boys. We are bombarded with so many instances in which young women are publicly humiliated through slut-shaming (Vanessa Hudgens, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Swift, to name a few). Nancy decides enough is enough. Time to shut the haters up.
Last but not least, we have Eleven (Millie Brown). Eleven is constantly saying “no” to all the boys.
Here, she is saying she will not compromise her safety by telling Mike’s mom of her presence in episode 2. This girl cannot be much older than, well, eleven (no pun intended), but she understands consent PERFECTLY. She is a great example to women of any age, that no one, not even your friends, can make you do anything without your consent.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much humanity in this show that I could write about, like the relationship between Jonathan and his brother, the friendship among the four boys, and all the shit Nancy goes through that I can thoroughly relate to. For a short series, Stranger Things accomplishes so much. I can’t wait for season 2.