Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3 are in play. If you aren’t caught up, please exit the mall and return once you’ve experienced this most recent season.
Stranger Things’ third season had some pretty explosive moments, both literally and figuratively. We found out more about antagonist lifeguard turned alien emissary Billy’s tragic life story, we saw relationships bloom and bust, several characters took some rather chilling ice baths, and an entire mall was destroyed for the amusement of Netflix subscribers that tuned in for the latest adventures in Hawkins, Indiana.
Among all of that excitement was another landmark event: the first major LGBT character in the Stranger Things universe made her debut in Robin, Steve and Dustin’s co-conspirator in cracking the secret Russian operations going on under Starcourt Mall. It’s an achievement that actor Maya Hawke is quite proud of, as she explained in a recent interview.
The great thing about Stranger Things is it has such a reach and so many people watch it in the middle of the country. Even a little gesture like having a gay character is a big deal. It feels wonderful to have a piece of that humanity involved in this giant action-packed drama. It's such an amazing thing the Duffer Brothers did, stopping the whole show — there's an action scene going on [elsewhere in the episode] — and it stops for a seven-minute conversation between two people who really care about each other. It's a really beautiful thing. I feel really lucky that I got to play that.
The big reveal came in the sixth episode, “E Pluribus Unum," as Maya Hawke’s Robin and Steve Harrington, played by series fixture Joe Keery, shared a personal moment which eventually led to two big drops.
As Steve confessed his crush on Robin, she then told Steve of her own personal truth: She was in love with a girl who had a crush on him. Rather than lead to a cut and dry end to their association, Stranger Things uses this reality, and the insane chemistry between Maya Hawke and Joe Keery, to keep the characters together after their job at the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor comes to an obvious, fiery end.
During her conversation with THR, Maya Hawke explained Robin’s journey in the following terms, framed in the context of how she develops throughout Season 3:
Robin starts the season with a lot of hard walls. The more she gets involved with this mystery, the more herself she becomes. The reason she has all these hard walls is that she doesn't feel like she fits in. She feels like an odd one out. She's gay, and nobody knows that. There's a lot she's bored by, and there's a lot she's too nervous to express about herself that makes a person put up a lot of walls. But once these other characters start to reveal themselves to her, and once she gets to be on the front of a mission, her personality really comes through because she feels like herself. She can use her abilities, and she be useful, and nothing makes a person feel better than being useful.
Wherever those adventures take the gang, particularly in the supposedly limited time left in the series’ endgame, it would be nice to see a vital part of that foundation is the continuing adventures of friends Steve and Robin, as they settle into their new roles at the local arcade. In a series about friendship and the bonding of small town youths against the increasingly weirder world, they just might be one of the most important pairs to follow up with throughout the rest of Stranger Things’ run.
Stranger Things Season 3 is currently available on Netflix for your viewing enjoyment, should you want to take another lap around the Starcourt Mall. But if you’re looking to see what else is coming down the line with our 2019 TV and Streaming schedule.