Warning: spoilers ahead (but no ‘big’ spoilers, so feel free to read on)…
I recently watched the first season of Netflix original ‘Stranger Things’ (I know, I know, I’m a bit late to the party…). As I watched, I realised that the series is made up of several wonderful characters. There’s the exceptionally switched-on Chief, the teenagers who set out to fight a monster, and the young girl who willingly re-enters a scary place in order to help her new friends.
However, I’m pretty certain that I, a 20-something-year-old who watches too much TV, will never actually face a “faceless man” from “the upside-down” world or possess super-powers. So while these characters are incredibly impressive on the flat-screen, they’re actually not helpful role-models for the average Jo.
But one of my favourite things about the ‘Stranger Things’ series is that we don’t just see the undoubtedly brave characters (like Hopper, Nancy, Jonathan and Eleven). We also see the secretly-inspirational characters who show us how to live everyday-life right.
So, here are the ‘Stranger Things’ heroes that people like you and I can look up to…
- Barb: The Epic Friend.
To most viewers, Barb probably seems like an uncool, uninteresting, unimportant character. She has hardly any screen-time, only one person seems to really notice when she goes missing, and, well, she dies. But when I actually took a moment to think about her, I realised that she can actually teach us a thing or two about how to be a good friend. She notices when Nancy isn’t being herself and bravely confronts her about it. She didn’t want to attend Steve’s party, but she did it anyway – because she clearly wanted to be there for her friend. And, when Nancy rudely tells her to “just go home”, she waits for her, alone in the backyard, probably because she wants to make sure Nancy gets home alright.
- Dustin: The Peace-Maker.
Dustin isn’t just super comical and endearing; this loveable cutie also models how to be an awesome friend. Forget “Toothless”; I have now nicknamed him “The Peace-Maker” because, well, he is one. When Mike and Lucas fight, Dustin tries to stop them. Afterwards, he bravely tells Mike that he was in the wrong saying, “You pushed first.” (Being rebuked sucks at first, but in the long run it helps you become a better person. So, Go Dustin!) He then encourages Mike to seek forgiveness from his bestie, once again demonstrating that these boys clearly value friendship. (P.S. To all the ‘Dustin’s’ in every friendship group: we are so thankful for you!)
- Karen: The Householder.
While Mike’s dad (whatever his name is) sleeps on his lazy-boy, Mike’s mum is busy feeding her family homemade blueberry pancakes for breakfast, doing everything in her power to keep her children safe and assuring her kids that they can talk to her about anything. She knows when to give her children personal space, but she’s also willing to inspect when she knows something’s up. Karen is the primary comforter of the Wheeler’s and clearly cares deeply about the well-being of her family. When told that Mike was in danger, she considered going out and investigating – while her husband was happy to sit back and let someone else do the work. Karen displays how to be the householder – and every home needs one!
- Benny: The Good Samaritan.
We didn’t have much time to get to know Benny. But, with his fifteen minutes of fame, this restaurant owner earned himself the “Good Samaritan” title. Instead of forcing a random grubby girl (Eleven) to leave his restaurant after sneaking in and stealing his food, he took responsibility and chose to care for her: he cooked her a kid-friendly meal, tried to understand her situation, and called social services to come and collect her. Our bearded buddy reminds us that strangers have their own secret hardships, so we should try and look out for them .
- Steve: The Changed Heart.
The final everyday hero from ‘Stranger Things’ is Steve. Yep, you read right: Steve. I know, I know, I saved the worst ‘til last – but bear with me! ‘Early-season-Steve’ is a total jerk, shamelessly trying to get into Nancy’s pants, completely destroying Jonathan’s camera (those things ain’t cheap!), and not giving a hoot about Barb when she goes missing. But ‘later-season-Steve’ is a little bit less selfish, helping the cinema owner remove graffiti, telling his silly friends off, humbly seeking forgiveness from Nancy (before helping her slay a mysterious monster), and replacing Jonathan’s camera. He shows us that if you act like a cow, which we all do at times, it is possible to turn around and change your ways. So, I guess it’s totally acceptable that Nancy stayed with him – even though I’m secretly hoping she does end up with Jonathan!
So, there you have it: the everyday heroes of ‘Stranger Things’. I will never battle beasts like Lucas, Nancy and Jonathan did, or kill “the bad guys” with my eyes like Eleven did. But I will always have the opportunity to be an epic friend like Barb, a peace-maker like Dustin, a householder like Karen, a ‘Good Samaritan’ like Benny, or a changed heart like Steve.
Note: A version of this post (also written by me) was published on Elite Daily. View it here.