WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
I’m going to come right out and say that I watched all nine episodes of Stranger Things season two on Friday and Saturday and I have precisely no regrets.
I ate a lot of chocolate. Too much popcorn. My dog is confused and seems to think I’m unwell.
But I’m fine. More than fine.
Because overall, season two is probably better than season one. It’s scarier, there’s more character development, we get two new cast members and an unlikely hero.
But there’s one element of the storyline I found myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable with – and it culminated in the very last scene of the series.
Let me explain.
Listen to Clare Stephens and Brittany Stewart debrief on Stranger Things season two on Mamamia’s TV podcast, The Binge. Post continues after audio.
In season one we had a few hints the plot was going to go in this direction, but I thought maybe I was imagining it. Then a few episodes in, Eleven re-appeared, and in one moment, the seeds were planted again.
Eleven goes to Hawkins High School to find Mike, but when she finds him, he’s having a conversation with Max, a girl who has recently become a part of the boys’ friendship group. Eleven doesn’t like that Mike is talking to Max, so she uses her magic powers to make Max fall off her skateboard.
Eleven is 13 years old. When she first met Mike she was 12. She’s also spent a great deal of her childhood in a lab, which stunted her language and emotional development. Except when it comes to romantic heterosexual relationships, apparently. In that way, she’s very mature. Because she likes Mike. And the idea of him spending time with another female is threatening.
I just need to say it: WHY DO KIDS IN AMERICAN MOVIES AND TV SHOWS ALWAYS NEED TO FALL IN LOVE.
This isn’t a thing.
When I was 12, I was playing The Sims constantly. I was setting my Sim people on fire and making them haunt new families and using cheats to make them unwarranted millionaires. No romance. No jealousy. I was a child.
But apparently, in any kind of fictional American world, children are really just mini-adults, who have the same maturity and attraction as the grown ups around them.
In the very last scene of Stranger Things, Mike, Will, Dustin and Lucas are at the school's Snow Ball. It's an end of year dance, and as soon as they get there, their prerogative is to find a female human to dance with. There's Lucas and Max, then Will and an unnamed girl, then Dustin and Nancy.
And as Mike is standing alone, with all his friends paired off, Eleven walks in.
It's like every prom movie ever, except this isn't prom, it's a school dance, and these kids are 13.
My problem with this ending is two-pronged. On the one hand, there's the corniness. I wanted someone to vomit a slug. Or to see a demogorgon lurking somewhere. Or to discover that maybe Dustin's cute pet Dart had left something behind that would have dire consequences for Hawkins.
On the other hand, there's the unnecessary romantic plotline.
I so badly wanted Mike and Eleven to just be friends, because believe it or not, girls and boys can sometimes like each other without pursuing a romantic relationship. Eleven doesn't need to be Mike's love interest to justify her character. She had literally just solved the problem with the Upside Down. She's magic. She can make stuff happen with only her mind.
You can listen to the full episode of The Binge here. Post continues after audio.
But apparently, when you're female, regardless of your age, that's not enough. You must ultimately be of romantic value to a male.
It can be argued that this final scene, and the relationships within it, are a throwback to iconic 80s films, like The Goonies, where this was the norm.
But I would hope that when you've created a Stranger Things universe, where an entire other dimension exists with murderous monsters and supernatural qualities, you could also re-imagine the way boys and girls interact with each other.
Grab your girls and get to the movies for the ultimate night out.
Bad Moms 2 In Cinemas November 2.