The Minority Report | Ashley Kim
Season two of Stranger Things was released a month ago. Naturally, I binge-watched it over the break. Its ubiquitous and awesome praise made it impossible to ignore—even if I tried. If you don’t know what Stranger Things is, I’m positive you’re lying. If you really don’t know, a quick Google search can educate you on one of the greatest shows of our time.
While the writing and producing of Stranger Things is phenomenal, what’s most captivating about the show is the multilayered and complex characters—even characters that appear to be completely void of happy emotions.
Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) is the new kid on the block in season two. His apathetic attitude, defined jaw-line, and tough, bad-boy façade makes even older women swoon. In his introduction, viewers quickly learn that Billy isn’t interested in making friends. His interactions with others are—more often than not—charged by anger; he is a bully and a typical “tough guy.”
In a confrontation with his father later in the season, Billy’s demeanor completely changes. He appears weak, making him unrecognizable. His dad verbally and physically abuses him after becoming angry that his stepsister has goes missing. It’s clear that this isn’t the first time that Billy’s father has acted this way, either. And Billy’s ever-angry attitude is finally explained. Not a second after his father leaves, Billy is shown crying in frustration—something not typically displayed by male characters on television.
While Stranger Things can certainly do more for female and race representation, it properly unravels the harmful effects of hypermasculinity, showing that it encourages a less than ideal lifestyle filled with hate, violence, and isolation. Billy’s tears perhaps foreshadow a transformation for his character in the next season.
This theory is supported by Steve Harrington’s (Joy Keery) character development in both seasons. Viewers see Steve transform from a masculine, popular jock to a compassionate, mindful, and helpful friend. Hopefully, Billy will follow suit—mostly because I am selfish and want Billy to be better so I can justify my love for him.
Until then, I’ll give praise to the Duffer Brothers for making it known that men do not always have to abide by masculine ideals to be a great male character, and for making male characters multi-faceted.