Attention! Season 4 spoilers alert
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE VIA NETFLIX
Like the rest of the world, this week, I’ve been binging Season 4 of Stranger Things. And God, what a dagger to the heart that finale was. Watching beloved new character Eddie Munson pass away in Dustin’s arms proclaiming “I didn’t run away this time, right?” after fighting off demonic bats in the Upside Down was a huge blow. And Max Mayfield, in a carefully curated plan to lure Vecna in for the gang to bring him to his demise, ended up hospitalised after their plan went wrong. Thanks a lot for that, Jason.
But in spite of the tears I shed at this finale – and truly, I was sobbing so hard I could barely breathe – the Duffer Brothers have finally gifted us with some queer joy. Queer character Robin Buckley, played by Maya Hawke, came out in Season 3 and has since been thirsted over by LGBTQI women the world over. After fancying bandmate Vickie for the entirety of the season, the finale gave us what we needed.
Running into her in a shop with her boyfriend, Robin’s dreams were quickly crushed. But by the last episode, she’s broken up with her “stupid boyfriend” and the pair share a heart-warming moment whilst preparing peanut butter and jam sandwiches at Hawkins’ makeshift earthquake relief centre. Except we all know that that “earthquake” was Vecna splitting in two, but you know. The sexual tension was palpable, and for the first time, we see some potentially reciprocated feelings between the pair. There’s only so much darting eyes and awkward smiles a girl can take before it becomes a straight-up ship. And this one could totally become canon.
For the best part of the season, I was concerned that the TV show would – yet again – write a lesbian character into a TV show without giving her any happiness, any tangible love interest or any true representation. For seven episodes, poor Robin was lusting over a girl that couldn’t tangibly love her back, and that’s a trope we’ve seen far too often. In this renewed moment of hope, one of the most beautiful moments is best friend and ultimate ally Steve Harrington’s reaction. Steve was the first person that Robin came out to, and he couldn’t have taken it better. Set in the 1980s in midwestern America, the show could’ve played to traditional “stereotypes” and given Robin a hard time, but it didn’t. Steve has been Robin’s biggest cheerleader, and the happiness on his face watching Robin share a touching moment with Vickie – even after being rejected once again by ex-girlfriend Nancy and left alone once more – is unparalleled. That’s true allyship, right there.
To little surprise, TikTok has been thirsting over Robin and by extension Maya Hawke – the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman – left right and centre. The “Fab Four” this season, comprised of Steve Harrington, Nancy Wheeler, Robin Buckley and newcomer Eddie Munson, have been hailed as a bisexual dream, and for good reason. They’re all so damn attractive. Fans have even speculated about the black and white handkerchief that Eddie perpetually wears in the back pocket of his jeans, finding that these handkerchiefs are commonly used amongst the BDSM community as a signal. The bisexuals have truly been treated.
Giving Robin a tangible love interest is significant. Rather than virtue-signalling, the Duffer Brothers have decided to give a queer woman character – living in the vastly conservative landscape that was 1980s America – a happy ending. Or a chance at one, at the very least. Lusting over a totally unreachable straight girl would be a devastating blow. Robin’s storyline is set during a time when the HIV/AIDS crisis was decimating LGBTQI communities across the globe; President Reagan refused to even utter the words “AIDS”, and in the UK, Margaret Thatcher only introduced the fearmongering “don’t die of ignorance” campaign after straight people began to contract the virus. Robin’s storyline might not rewrite history, but writing in those little elements of happiness – however small – mean so much.
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