You can’t spell America without Erica
Not sure if you’ve heard, but Stranger Things 3 is now available to stream on Netflix.
Naturally, more spoilers than a used car dealership lie ahead. If you haven’t finished the series yet, respectfully, go away (and come back later).
Now then. Decent series, wasn’t it? Strong start, sufficient middle and a belter of an ending. Overall, very good. A 9/10.
As is the case with any series, some of the characters turned into melts, while others became the heroes the fictional town of Hawkins deserves. The next logical step after bingeing the entire series over two days is to dissect the characters and cause mass unrest by ranking them from worst to best.
All decisions are final. Do not @ me.
With the greatest respect to Suzie, she absolutely fucked Stranger Things 3, and for what? And. For. What. Suzie was miffed that her ‘Dusty Bun’ was off doing other things such as saving the world from certain extinction rather than singing pansy little love songs with her over long range walkie talkies. She wasted valuable time turning an otherwise credible show into High School Pukesical and withheld Planck’s constant to flirt with a guy she’ll inevitably forget about when she goes to her first teenage disco. Everyone knows that science camp love isn’t real love anyway. Suzie killed Hopper. Suzie ruined everything. Suzie should fry for what she has done.
17. Karen Wheeler
Dammit Karen, keep it in your jorts. She allowed lust to take over and openly thirsted after the 18-year-old brother of her son’s friend. Had she refused to meet Billy that fateful night, he wouldn’t have been dragged into the Upside Down and turned into an even more hellish being than he already was. Everything would’ve been fine. Mike and Nancy would’ve remained in an unbroken home with their committed mother and a father who looks like the human embodiment of a very dry fart. Karen somehow managed to fuck everything, without actually doing any fucking. A gift, but also a curse.
Not so fast, mister. Although he died by sacrificing himself to protect Eleven, everything that happened up to that point was pretty much Billy’s fault. Much like Mrs. Wheeler, Billy was overcome by his horn. He openly seduced a (very willing) married woman and then made specific plans to sow his wild seed. Had Billy merely respected the sanctity of marriage and porked someone his own age, none of the horrors of Stranger Things 3 would’ve happened. Not to him, anyway. If Billy thought with his head rather than his little Billbo Baggins, everyone would be alive and well today.
The enemy of my hero is my enemy. Mike annoyed Hopper this series, therefore he annoyed all of us. He just wanted to do some kissing, that was his main motivation and although it’s an honourable one, it’s also very boring. The most noticeable difference between Stranger Things 3 and previous series was how insufferably horny all of the characters were, with Mike being no exception. Other than wanting to do some smooching with Eleven, what else had Mike to offer this season? He was a terrible friend to Will, showed little concern for making Dustin feel welcome when he returned from camp and he ignored his mother’s blatant signs of infidelity. Overall, a Grade A chump.
Aside from the best line of the series, ‘You can’t spell America without Erica’, this character is landing low in the list for one overarching reason. She took advantage of the Scoops Ahoy free sample policy and ultimately put Steve and Robin’s jobs at risk, jeopardising the financial success of the company. Steve could’ve lost his job, thereby rendered penniless and unable to afford Farrah Fawcett setting spray. His hair would lack volume and structure, falling flat and lifeless. Steve would be forced to live out the rest of his life without friends, lovers and admirers. He would be the Demogorgon’s next target and not enough nail-protruding baseball bats in the world could save him.
My dude Will still has severe PTSD from previous series of Stranger Things, but at the same time, get over it pal. He just wants to play Dungeons & Dragons with his friends, but they have other interests now because they’ve all become furiously horny before he has. Will’s going to get there eventually, he’s just a slow starter. By next series he’s going to have a girlfriend, side piece, ex-wife and illegitimate son all vying for his attention. But during this series, Will was a melt. We get it, your neck itches. Maybe get a better haircut and turn that sad little face with a mum-of-four haircut into a happy little face with a mum-of-four haircut.
12. Murray Bauman
He came good in the end, but it wasn’t a painless journey in getting there. Murray was an annoying character for the most part. This series we got to see a slightly more human side to the guy, thanks to his translating expertise and burgeoning friendship with Alexei (RIP, forever in our hearts x). When Joyce and Hopper finally got him on board to help save the town of Hawkins, he was still a bit of a grump about it. He hates kids, which is Murray’s most relatable quality, along with his taste for sharing carnival corndogs with loved ones. Would the world be a better place if Murray died instead of Hopper? That is not for me to say, but yes.
Lucas showed his true colours this series by outing himself as a deranged pyromaniac. Other than sating his appetite for colourful explosives, he did little else of value in Stranger Things 3. He got lucky with a slingshot and mostly just angered his girlfriend. He also tried to sell us Coca-Cola in the worst product placement scene of all time. That was the entire character arc for Lucas Sinclair. His sister got more screen time and put in a better graft at saving the world, but you go around the mall sniffing perfume and having a dandy time, Lucas. To be fair, his style was untouchable and hat collection impeccable. We technically have to stan, albeit begrudgingly.
Maybe lock the door if you’re so worried about the light ruining your damn photographs, Jonathan? Just a suggestion. Compared to previous series, Jonathan wasn’t as essential this time around. He was reluctant to get involved in the very blatant turmoil that Hawkins was descending into, instead eager to please his employers which was a wasted effort considering it was an unpaid internship. His cold, dead eyes photographed that feral rat as if he was working on a David Attenborough series. Credit where it’s due, he installed an ignition cable despite having no prior knowledge of car mechanics that we know of. Not the best, but also not the worst character in this series.
Max’s storyline this series saw her teaching Eleven about female friendship and it was the purest aspect of Stranger Things 3. They laughed, they joked, they bought ridiculous outfits, bitched about their shitty boyfriends and used special powers to spy on various people that they knew. It’s a solid and very typical foundation for a friendship that is sure to last a lifetime in Hawkins, Indiana. Her Mind Flayer afflicted stepbrother didn’t seem to perturb Max to much effect all along, but her reaction to his death was straight up heartbreaking and really humanised both characters. It’ll be interesting to see how her character develops with the next series.
She had to put up with a lot of shit in that internship, so it was great to see Nancy finally gaining the strength to take herself and her mom haircut out the door, never looking back. She smelled a literal rat before anyone else, convincing her photography nonce boyfriend to down tools and investigate Mrs. Driscoll’s suspicious basement activity. Nancy was a bit of a boss when it came to defending herself against the Mind Flayers and showed a maternal side protecting her idiot brother and his friends from Billy’s tormented soul. She played her part well this series, it’s hard to fault her actions. Now that Jonathan has moved away, the most logical thing is for Nancy to reunite with Steve so that his wonderful hair can balance out her tragic mop.
My dude wore the same uniform for the entire series and still bossed it. Steve was, as always, a triumph and reliable guardian to the kids he is friends with but not in a creepy way. Dustin knew he could turn to Steve and their beautiful relationship blossomed to even greater heights. After confessing his love, Steve’s sensitivity towards Robin’s coming out was endearing, as was his drug-fuelled giddiness when the Russians captured him. Steve played a huge role in the success of this series and has undoubtedly inspired the most popular Halloween costume of 2019. He is a style icon. He is a guardian of the peace. He is an ice cream salesman with fantastic hair. He is Steve Harrington and I would die for him.
A controversial placement given how irritating he was for two thirds of this series, Hopper is landing just outside of the top five spot because he came good in the end, but it wasn’t without preceding unsatisfactory behaviour. Hopper made it very difficult to feel the usual level of adoration towards him because he was a big grump about Eleven and Mike doing so much kissing with the door closed. To his credit, it was disgusting for the viewer as well, but Hopper could’ve been slightly more chill. His devotion to wooing Joyce was unrelenting, as was his commitment to protecting the town of Hawkins, Indiana and all its inhabitants. He died a hero, even though he’s probably still alive. He better be. He fucking better still be alive.
Poor choice in girlfriend aside, Dustin was a consistently essential character yet again this series. Stranger Things without Dustin Henderson is like a Juul without a pod, or a Juul with an empty pod. He’s the heart, soul and life of the show. The boy wore a t-shirt that had a picture of a cow sunbathing with the caption ‘Roast Beef’, that is the level of icon we’re dealing with. He was segregated from the rest of the group for most of the series, forming a new supergroup with Erica, Robin and Steve, proving beyond reasonable doubt that a spinoff show is imminent. Imagine if Dustin got to meet Alexei. Imagine the blessed content and meme-worthy imagery. Imagine the conversations about science! One can dream.
A new player has entered the arena and she’s going straight into the top four because we are dealing with an icon. Robin’s leniency with the Scoops Ahoy free samples will likely lead the company into receivership, but other than that, she was a very key player in Stranger Things 3. She single-handedly cracked the Russian code. If it was left to Dustin and Steve, they probably would’ve given up after half a day and instead written a lively song about their troubles, producing a music video and submitting it to MTV. Her backstory and coming out scene in the bathroom was one of the strongest moments this series and she was the much-needed addition to the cast that we didn’t know we needed. More of Robin in series 4, please.
The temptation to put Eleven at number 11 on the list was overwhelming, but I resisted because I am a professional. Eleven was different this series. She developed as a person thanks to kissing practice with Mike and being a teenage girl practice with Max. Eleven turned into somewhat of a style icon, despite having a nosebleed on basically everything she owns. Her and Hopper’s relationship was slightly frayed, but his heart was always in the right place. For the first time we saw a vulnerable side to Eleven as her powers couldn’t overpower the Mind Flayer. Mike’s reassurance regarding her powers, “Don’t worry, they’ll come back” means nothing, but in all likelihood she’ll be back to full health next series, albeit in a different town to her friends.
Homegirl just fully stopped turning up to work at the store with no explanation, instead becoming an honorary member of the Hawkins Police Department. She was visibly lonely at the start of the series, slowly opening herself up to the blatantly available Hopper bit by bit. Joyce craves world peace and will stop at nothing to protect her family, even if that means moving them far away from this suspiciously unlucky town. Joyce was the good cop to Hopper’s bad and also very angry cop, trusting her instincts by showing a gentler side with Alexei who ultimately turned out to be good. Imagine Stranger Things without Joyce Byers. You cannot. You simply cannot. This woman deserves happiness and if it doesn’t come her way in series 4, we riot.
How dare this adorable Russian doctor come into our lives, fill them with trepidation, then joy, then utter heartbreak in such a short space of time. How truly, very dare he. Alexei was a simple man, a man whose interests started and ended with petrol station Cherry Slurpees. It was his one true love, used as a bargaining tool in times of uncertainty when it really seemed like Hopper was going to kill him in a comically violent manner. Alexei’s information about Russian operations in Hawkins proved vital to the plot, making him the real hero of the series, along with a loveable one. Seeing him hit three balloons with a dart at the carnival, therefore winning a giant Woody Woodpecker and delighting his onlookers, can and will cure depression in years to come. A more wholesome and short-lived character you simply will not find on television. Rest in power, Alexei. Thank you for your service. Gone, but never forgotten.
Images via Netflix