Just once we needed one more excuse to camp the end in prior of the AC, Netflix gifted us the man Hughes–meets–Drive fear thriller Stranger Things. Parallel universes, throwback parkas, synthesizers — what else perform you require for a weekend TV bender?

If you're a feminist, you need a tiny more. And at an initial blush, the Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things appears to deliver. In the pilot alone, we satisfy the brave and also determined single mom, Joyce Byers, who is sustaining two boy on grocery store clerk wages. We watch one androgynous telekinetic girl escape the male using her body because that experiments (played by a skeezy Matthew Modine, who renders her contact him "Papa"). And also we're introduced to script-flipper (and great shot) Nancy Wheeler, who breaks padlocks with rocks and takes zero shit.

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The show also throws quite a couple of middle finger up at the society of violent masculinity. The men who prevail in Stranger Things space not Hollywood's idea of "manly." Jonathan Byers cried because that a week when his deadbeat dad made him shoot a rabbit. Mike & Co. Play Dungeons & Dragons. The dweeby scientific research teacher, Mr. Clark, has a hot day to watch sci-fi through on a Saturday night. We see method more brain than brawn here — even Modine's personality is an ext evil genius 보다 brute. We spend most of our time v the misfits that Hawkins, calculation the jocks and also bullies basic, pathetic, and also ultimately forgettable.

Sounds prefer it has all the makings that a self-aware, gender-conscious riff, but when it pertains to the Bechdel Test, Stranger Things right scrapes by. If you're unfamiliar, this test was created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel (of Fun Home fame) and requires that a movie 1) feature at the very least two called female personalities who 2) connect in conversation around 3) something various other than a man. Organized up against the test's rubric, Stranger Things's grades are probably much more akin to Tommy H. And also Carol's than, say, Nancy Wheeler's.



The present is peppered with almost-passes — Nancy and also her mom talk summary (about the assembly for Will, or she antics with Steve). Joyce and Karen Wheeler meet for missing-kid casserole, however talk only around their sons. Nancy call Barb's mommy to inquire around her daughter's whereabouts, yet we never discover this woman's name. Before Eleven gets in the makeshift sensory deprivation tank, Joyce and Nancy both say thanks to her, however El's muteness keeps the from conversation status. The closest the show comes to passing is as soon as Nancy asks she classmate Ally about Barb. We only know this person's name because Nancy provides it to gain her attention, and also this is Ally's only three secs of screen time in the series.

Adding humiliation to injury, the show additionally features zero non-straight people; the bullies gay-shame Will and slut-shame Nancy; and also the ineffectual cops connect in part hokey commodification of each other's wives. I m sorry isn't even to cite the means our lover Barb's disappearance is treated more like a lost iPhone 보다 a lacking person. Taken together, these points stand to leaving a pernicious affect on the viewing audience. However do lock obscure what the show does right? once it pertains to measuring patriarchal culpability, is it feasible the test alone is no enough?

Plenty of films pass it, yet still regulate to fail marginalized people (Sex and the City 2's lurid cultural ignorance involves mind). The Die Hard and Sin City franchises pass, despite treating both male and also female bodies together ornaments. And also although they it seems to be ~ to provide positive function models, all however one the the Harry Potter movies and also the 3 OG Star Wars fail, ultimately reducing women to tokens who sole objective is to prop up masculine story arcs.



The females of Stranger Things, on the various other hand, administer the show's main story arcs (save for will certainly Byers, that is right on the screen). Eleven is, arguably, the most compelling and memorable personality on the show. Joyce is sincere, implacable, and also complex. Her emotional unraveling is real, relatable, and unapologetic — she refuses come let anyone gain away through calling her crazy or a poor mother, and also even in she absence, the authors ensure that Hopper and Jonathan protect her against misogynistic detractors.

And Nancy. Nancy who appears the the very least likely to buck gender stereotypes as soon as we an initial glimpse the Easter egg palette the is her bedroom. The takes a couple of episodes to notification Nancy's willful and also decisive nature — when Steve is pushy in the bathroom at institution or throughout their research sesh, she pole to her convictions and he backs down. As soon as they carry out sleep together, she makes the very first move. She decides when it's time because that her and Jonathan to go after the monster.

Choosing Steve is not a hit on her character, either. This girl likes Toto and also Top Gun, no Evil Dead and brand-new Order! For everything reason, Steve walk it for Nancy. And when friend tease it out, the Steve an option is powerful. Throughout the show, we see Nancy act things since she wants to, amid a chorus of human being telling her what she ought to do. Both Barb and also Jonathan apply this press ("This isn't you," says Barb. "I saw a girl pretending come be someone she's not," claims Jonathan). Steve, despite flawed, appears fine with everything person Nancy wants to it is in — whether that's cramming for a test or shotgunning beers.

The Duffer brothers have additionally pointed the end that it to be probably tough for Nancy to be approximately Jonathan after they uncovered Will — the two were united by their common stake in the Upside Down, however Jonathan acquired what he was searching for; Nancy did not. The girl's best friend simply died! She is no doubt wrestling with a totality meatloaf that anger, guilt, and also bitterness. Steve's obsequiousness is no doubt soothing. Eventually the many feminist treatment we can provide this relationship selection is to respect and honor it, no assume we understand what's best for her. At the end of the monster hunt, it's Nancy's selection to make.


The visibility of these three women in one season of television seems prefer a aware effort at unseating gendered power, specifically in 2016, when much less than half of released films are happen the test. But can every one of the show's victories it is in meaningful, presented together they are in the wishful-thinking environment of fantasy? In a fact where only 43 percent the the top 100 sci-fi films pass Bechdel's criteria, ns think the price is yes. Two men making a fantasy film has not, in the past, meant that young boys v speech impediments, human being of color, and fully-clothed women obtain to it is in the heroes — in fact, the usually means the opposite. That seems like directors who grew up LARP-ing are an ext likely to usage their movies to live vicariously through hard guys who slay the villain and get the girl than to take under normalized gendered violence. V Stranger Things, the D&D-obsessed Duffer brother aren't using the show to live choose the other side, however to speak you don't also have to it is in on the side to conserve the day. I beg your pardon is a win in itself for anyone societally Other.

Unfortunately, these newcomer director seem also distracted paying your Spielbergian early out diligence to give things prefer latent sexism much thought here. If the show gets choose up because that season two (which seems choose a preposterous unknown at this point — over there are entire think pieces dedicated to Barb, whose display screen time is indistinguishable to the Eggo brand), it would be straightforward for lock to best some of this wrongs and ace the Bechdel ~ above the next go around. Possibly Nancy have the right to make them some flash cards.

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Season one's problems are not minor: It's a genuine shame that it stops working to shine a irradiate on the multigenerational menagerie of strong women at its main point by offering them the radical permission come interact. It's also tough to stomach the misogynistic behavior flying around. However a lot of that actions serves come situate the show in its time duration — and also not in the method that apologists defend in "historically accurate" (read: sexist) projects. Here, there is sexism the the females (and men) push ago against. The characters call the out. In that way, Stranger Things is in stride v The force Awakens, with Rey admonishing Fin for consistently taking her hand. The patriarchy persists in Hawkins, as it does in our contemporary world, yet these examples of ladies laughing in the confront of the do make an impact — currently if only they can laugh about it in the exact same room.