Let’s Hear It For The Girls: Women Were The Real Heroes Of ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3

Everybody needs to just LISTEN to Joyce Byers!

Stranger Things season 3 women

Despite having strong female characters in Eleven, Nancy Wheeler and Joyce Byers, Stranger Things has been quite a bro-heavy show from the beginning.

The friendship of four boys forms the centre of the story, after all, with Eleven framed as the ~alien~ girl who comes in and saves the day but also kinda ruins things at the same time. 

This theme continues with the introduction of Max in Season 2.

She’s a sarcastic skater/gamer girl who immediately becomes the object of affection of two of the boys, inadvertently widening the wedge already developing in their friendship. 

Thankfully, Stranger Things Season 3 ditches the mild undercurrent of “girls ruin everything” and instead switches it up for “girls save everything and boys basically suck (except Steve Harrington)”.

And the show is much better for it. Let’s take a look at how the girls stole the show this season…

Eleven and Max to the rescue

Stranger Things Season 3 somewhat sidelines Mike — from Eleven’s arc, and in general — which is a good thing.

As lovely as he is as the group’s leader in Season 1, he’s kind of annoying in Season 2 — and by Season 3 he’s just morphed into such a Teen Boy™️ it’s rather painful. While Mike and Eleven start the season hot and heavy, it doesn’t take long before she dumps him and is free to go off and have a much more interesting story. 

Eleven has always been a powerful character, but what she badly needed was a plot that wasn’t centred around Mike.

Their love is sweet and all, but he’s literally the first boy she’s ever met, and has completely shaped her knowledge and interactions with the world. It was important she start to become her own person — not Mike’s, and not even Hopper’s — and this season she does that, with the help of Max, a female friend she was in desperate need of (and vice versa). 

It’s significant that it’s right after dumping the boys that Eleven and Max start figuring out that something is up(side down) in Hawkins. While Mike and Lucas are busy eating and farting and moaning, and Will is desperately trying to get them to play D&D, Eleven and Max are off investigating Billy’s shenanigans and getting ready to save the world once again. 

Even when Eleven loses her powers, she’s not powerless. It’s Eleven who connects with Billy at the end using her brain in a different way than we usually see her, saving the day in a very smart but very human way. 

Won’t somebody listen to Joyce Byers?!

Joyce Byers’ whole plot from the start of Season 1 has been a very long series of people (men) telling her she’s crazy when she is, in fact, always right.

Season 3 is no different — and this time even Hopper repeatedly shuts down her concerns. 

It’s not absurd for Joyce, after all the shit that has gone down in Hawkins, to suspect something is very wrong when all the magnets in town stop working. And yet it’s treated as just that! Thankfully, Joyce is nothing if not determined, and she doesn’t let a little thing like being told she’s crazy stop her. 

What’s even better about Joyce’s Season 3 plot is that, like Eleven, she’s separated from the male characters who have largely defined her character until now — her sons, and especially Will.

There’s nothing wrong with Joyce’s motherly terror being a driving force behind her early story arc, but Season 3 allows her to be defined by more than that, expanding her character while maintaining what was there before.

She even gets to be THE hero at the end, when she single-handedly (and heartbreakingly) closes the gate to the Upside Down. 

Nancy Wheeler And The Case Of Workplace Sexism

Following on the theme of the season, Nancy Wheeler knows there’s trouble brewing from the get-go and none of the men in her life will listen to her.

She’s treated abysmally at work and has to deal with patronising, sexist colleagues — and not even Jonathan will take her seriously (she deserves so much better than him, smdh).

Nevertheless, she strikes off on her own to investigate what’s going on — and, of course, is proven right. Nancy plays a crucial part in piecing the puzzle together about the monster that the Mind Flayer is building. 

If Joyce and Nancy’s plots tell us anything, it’s that if the men in Stranger Things just listened to the women for a change — or at least got out of their way — there would be a lot less murder and human goo monsters flying around. 

Welcome To The Stage, Robin, Erica And Suzie

Robin is undoubtedly one of the best things about Season 3, and makes a most welcome addition to the show — as does the expanded presence of Erica.

Pairing them up with Steve and Dustin turns them into an actual dream team. But — not to diminish Steve and Dustin’s contributions, which are important — if it weren’t for Robin and Erica, they’d literally all be dead by now. 

Robin and Erica are both smart in ways other characters aren’t, and are given agency to think and act on their instincts to ultimately help save the day. On top of being incredible in themselves, they also make the male characters around them better — not that that’s all their characters are about.

Plus they’re both really funny, which is a nice bonus.

As for Suzie, while her part is tiny, it’s crucial. Without her intelligence, everyone really would be dead. 

With these new characters and stronger arcs for the already existing characters, the ladies of Stranger Things 3 are a force to be reckoned with. They’re a diverse bunch who all bring different strengths to the table, and collectively they not only save the day (with help from the boys of course, don’t @ me), they also make Stranger Things a much stronger show.

It’s about damn time.

Stranger Things season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix.

Jenna Guillaume is a Sydney-based writer who loves all things TV and pop culture. She tweets @JennaGuillaume, and her new book, ‘What I Like About Me’ is available now.