Spoilers for season three of Stranger Things ahead. Don’t ruin this for me.
The year is 1985 and you are still recovering from a gruesome day scooping ice cream, being tortured by Russians, getting high as balls, and fighting a monstrous shadow creature that was trying to eat your entire town. I know, I know -- this is Indiana. Why would they even bother?
That’s beside the point. I just wanted to say that I’m proud of you. Not only for being an essential part of that rag-tag team of kids that get themselves into so much supernatural trouble, but for being authentically yourself. How were Steve and Dustin going to figure out that the mall was the target of an entirely unexplained plot by some unknown Russian government agency to unleash their own weapon of mass destruction for seemingly no purpose at all -- if you hadn’t learned the entire Russian alphabet in the time that my lazy ass can solve half of a New York Times crossword puzzle during my lunch break? We truly do not deserve you.
It’s not just the learning of the Russian, Robin. We already know you speak four languages, two of which are romance languages for which we swoon, but more importantly we are impressed by the effervescence in all you do. We were introduced to you tallying the number of girls Steve had yet to charm at your ice cream shop job prison, which is in one part brutal, and another tragic, because we the queer viewers know that you charmed more than seven of us this season.
In all the ways that Steve could not pull of that sailor hat, you could. That takes an amount of swag that most people simply cannot achieve. But we aren’t just here to look at you. That would be a blatant example of objectification that is both gross and unimaginative. We would never.
Let’s go back to the point of being proud. Stranger Things is a pop-culture phenomenon that sees its characters growing from kids to tweens to teens, all while fighting a cruel underlord of the Upside Down, triggering 1980’s outfits and hairdos, agencies experimenting with telekinesis on young children, and traditional gender roles.
As the seasons have gone on, we’ve headed into some darker territory in the narrative. There have been explorations of the cycle of abuse within a family with Billy and Max’s home life being scarily played out, as well as Nancy facing overt sexism in the workplace while an intern at The Hawkins Post. Not to mention a lot of death. But until you, Robin, we’d never had a queer character.
Who’s to say that if you hadn’t been tripping your face off on those Russian drugs they injected you with, that you would have felt as comfortable in your truth as you did after vomiting in the mall bathroom with Steve by your side? But we’re so glad you did. As we all waited for the rom-com-esque end to the season -- Steve and you still in your sailor outfits, sitting on the bathroom floor while he professes his love to you -- a bonafide nerd with the band camp credentials to accompany it, we were surprised by your response.
Not only were you not interested in Steve, because girl, you’re going a helluva lot farther than Hawkins, Indiana with that brain -- but honey, you are gay. It wasn’t that you wanted Steve for yourself as you pined away behind him wondering if he’d ever look up from his bagel and notice you, it was that Tammy Thompson was your crush and she didn’t even know you existed because she was too busy looking at Steve’s hair. Just to be petty, Tammy is most likely basic and wouldn’t even appreciate if you read Rimbaud to her on top of a hillside while you stroked her hair. We however, would totally appreciate it.
The end of Steve’s illusion about your crush on him wasn’t the end of your friendship. His “but Tammy Thompson’s a girl” comment only lingered for a few moments before he came to terms with it. You even got his bro-ass a job at the video store because you have exceptional taste in films. Of course you do. Little do they know, every bro needs some help from the sensitive but badass queer in their life. And if they don’t have it, they should get it.
Robin, we’re ecstatic to see what’s next for you. We’re happy to see you out of your sailor’s outfit and into your own sense of style. Will you always be more of a high-femme? Will you find someone who will not only appreciate your perfect Rimbaud translations but also the Neruda ones? Whatever you choose, we support you.
Just one question: can you explain the whole Russian conspiracy this season? I’m still entirely confused.
Dakota is a poet, journalist, and right in the damn center of the Kinsey scale. Follow her on Twitter: @Likethestates.