(there will definitely be some spoilers in this piece, so here is a warning in case you haven’t watched the third season yet!)
It has been a serious minute since I’ve written on this blog. I haven’t had the motivation entirely to write a lot but recently felt the need to write to work through feelings and everything. But I’m back and I think August is going to be my month to be a good blogger and a better person too.
Stranger Things 3 came out last month and I’ve been thinking about it basically every day since its release. I know this blog is a little more focused on books and things like that, but television writing is super important too and Stranger Things is one of my favorites and I’ve already spent all my friends and family’s patience with my constant discussion of it, so I’m going to bother everyone here now.
I really want to write about Nancy Wheeler, Mike’s older sister on the show, in particular actually. Nancy is super interesting to me, and this season she really proved to the entire audience why she deserves a place of importance on the show.
This season, Nancy starts off working as an intern in the local newspaper office. The place is, unsurprisingly, extremely patriarchal and she really has no say in anything despite her willingness and attention to detail and her journalistic tendencies. I think this is where I realized that the writers were finally seeing how Nancy was getting so much backlash simply for being a teenage girl and decided to actually represent it on the show, while also commenting on the all too common occurrence of sexism in the workplace.
I got so angry at these newspaper guys who were so, so demeaning to Nancy and I could feel her anger too through the screen. I love that she didn’t let them get to her entirely, there were, of course, moments where it led to issues with Jonathan and others, but she fully took her situation and made it into something she wanted, not listening to the men really at all. She is such an independent and stubborn character. I also loved that she got to beat up the newspaper guys once they were all “mind flayed” or whatever the show was calling it. I feel like it was a nice little bit of revenge for her ordering a wrong sandwich for one of the guys and his constant yelling and demeaning of her as a person. It was so infuriating watching those scenes, but it definitely is one of the more realistic parts of the show, which is all too concerning, unfortunately.
Nancy’s conversation with her mom was one of the most important parts of her character development this season and I loved it. Maybe the writers are finally trying to give Nancy the recognition she deserves as a feminist character. It was something that finally was not just about her relationships with either Steve or Jonathan and that was really special I thought. It also helped to round out the character of Mrs. Wheeler which was unexpected for me, but I really loved it.
I mentioned a little earlier how Nancy gets a lot of backlash from viewers, at least from what I’ve seen online, and I never understood that because, yes okay, she wasn’t the best friend to Barb in the first season, but she really learned from it and by the end of that season even, she was determined to fix her mistakes (and she’s also like a sixteen-year-old girl, so everyone should give her a little lee-way I think). But the majority of the backlash always comes from people saying she’s with the wrong guy, either Steve or Jonathan, depending on what season you’re watching. It’s super frustrating because I hate to see this strong female character lessened to only who she’s dating. She’s a lot more than that, and I think it was proved even more in this third season. Nancy’s a badass. And it doesn’t matter who she’s dating, though I think she does totally belong with Jonathan, even though I adore Steve. She’s going to kill it no matter who she’s dating, and that’s what’s really important.
I’m going to get into some criticism now and what I think we need to see from the next season, or seasons, with Nancy. I want her to continue to be her badass self, but I want her to get some more attention and admiration for what she does for the whole group. She really holds it down and gets a lot done, in literally every season, and she really does not get the appreciation. I want just more of her, I think it’s hard with such a great ensemble cast to get everyone equal parts, but I definitely think Nancy, and even Jonathan, could have had more plot points and moments in the season than they actually did. I feel like Jonathan had almost no speaking parts really, he just kind of drove around with Nancy, was interrupted developing photos, and got horribly beat up by his boss controlled by the mind flayer. But that’s an entirely different discussion, but an important one too.
I hope Nancy really finds herself in the next season, you know with Jonathan gone and all, so hopefully, we get to see her with some new girlfriends or even hanging out with the kids, because I think that would be really cool to see. And, of course, we have to see her wielding some new gun or other weapons around because how could she not in this season again. I also hope to see her developing more of her journalistic skills. I love how they implemented this part of her character because it makes perfect sense, and now with the misogynistic co-workers gone, maybe she can actually get her name on a byline or two, or more. You know what, no, I hope she’s totally in charge of the newspaper herself at this point. That would be incredible.
Each season Nancy proves how important she is to the show and it’s interesting because I feel like she always does what everyone wants her to do but she never fully stands up to what expectations people have for her and that sucks!! She’s such a strong female character and always chases things fully and with her whole heart but it’s sometimes like the writers and the viewers really don’t care about her. I really love the strength she shows because it’s different than the other female characters and sometimes may not be seen as a strength, but I just love it. It’s a quieter and more invested strength than the obvious Eleven or even Max, but I just really want people to appreciate Nancy as an important character because she is. I can relate to a lot of her characteristics, clearly, and I love getting to see her represented on the screen in a way I never thought would be seen.
I like to write these pieces about strong female characters because that’s who I like to write in my own stories, so getting to delve deeper into their lives and see how their characterizations work is super cool to me. I really love Nancy for the unexpected strength she has and I really hope she gets to become even stronger as the series continues. I think she’s super underrated and hopefully, she is used more in the upcoming seasons. I really loved writing this so if there’s more from this season that I should talk about or even other television shows with strong teenage girl characters, let me know! (also if Stranger Things needs another writer, hit me up, ladies! that would be a dream)