Stranger Things’ Third Season Delivers Unto Us a Snarky Lesbian

Mild spoilers for Stranger Things Season Three ahead

However you chose to celebrate (or not celebrate) your Fourth of July, I hope you had a restful holiday. Independence Day has never really been my thing for a lot of reasons, so like many queer nerds, I spent most of the day drinking chocolate-peanut butter milkshakes and binge-watching the new season of Stranger Things.

I couldn’t have been more delighted with that decision when, as the 4AM sunshine crept purple and orange light through the blinds of my Detroit apartment and mind-flaying monsters from The Upside Down terrorized my computer screen, I was treated to the sweetest little coming out scene.

Robin: Do you remember what I said about Click’s class? About me being jealous, and like, obsessed?
Steve: Yeah.
Robin: It isn’t because I had a crush on you. It’s because… she wouldn’t stop staring at you.
Steve: Mrs. Click?
Robin: Tammy Thompson. I wanted her to look at me. But she couldn’t pull her eyes away from you and your stupid hair. And I didn’t understand because you would get bagel crumbs all over the floor. And you asked dumb questions. And you were a douchbag. And — and you didn’t even like her and I would go home and just scream into my pillow.
Steve: But Tammy Thompson’s a girl… Oh.

After a summer of scooping ice cream together, ‘80s teens Steve “The Hair” Harrington and Robin now face an army of Russian spies who have been building a super-spy lair underneath their small-town Indiana mall (Stranger Things, amirite?). They’ve survived physical and chemical torture only to be saved by Dustin and Erica, the 10-year-old scene-stealing kid sister of another member of the crew. Now they’re face first in a public bathroom toilet, puking out their guts and the last of the truth serum that the Russians forced on them. There’s literal gooey monsters from the under-earth on the horizon and an entire world to save.

But first, there’s this quiet moment. A teenage girl risking it all to tell her truth to the only real friend she’s made in months. The boy that everyone assumed she was falling for, because nobody in 1985 small Midwestern towns ever thought any different. In fact, being an out queer teen in a 1985 small Midwestern town could’ve had the kind of ending that would make one wish for the fleshy, convulsing monsters to come to life instead.

“Yeah,” Robin replies as the full weight of her confession colors Steve’s face.

It’s gut-punching, the weight of the moment not lost even in the midst of armed enemy agents and a gaping portal to another physical dimension. Silence sits between them on the cold tile, and flickering overhead lights, just long enough for the audience to wonder if Steve is going to live up to the worst inclinations of the 1980s high school jock archetype he’s based on. Then, relief: “Tammy Thompson, you know, she’s cute and all, but… I mean… she’s a total dud.”

That’s right gay nerds, you can exhale and rejoice! Robin, Stranger Things’ Season Three breakout star of a snarky teen nerd rebel, is batting for Team Lesbian. The set up is meant to be a surprise, her coming out doesn’t occur until the season’s third act. Still, if I can be honest with you, I had her pegged right away. Robin sparks on screen, she has a perfect comeback for every asinine comment Steve throws her way, her chill level is epic, and she speaks something like five languages! There’s no way, no way, that a character that cool could be straight.

Robin and Steve eventually team up with the rest of the team to save the Hawkins Indiana day once more! Well-timed to its Netflix debut, the entire third season takes place over the week leading up to the town’s Fourth of July celebrations, and if you’re already guessing that means the Battle Royale takes place with fireworks overhead, you would be absolutely right. Some critics have called Stranger Things 3 its strongest outing yet. I’m not sure I agree; the first season is pretty much as close to 80s nostalgia catnip perfection that I can imagine any television show reaching. Still, Season Three is full of scary thrills, off-the-wall teenage adventures, and creepy Winona Ryder stares into the oblivion. Basically, what I’m saying is that in its third season Stranger Things smartly leans into what already made it great. PLUS THERE’S A LESBIAN!

By the way, Robin is played by Maya Hawke, daughter of 90s film legends Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. I didn’t know where else to fit that little tidbit, but I bet you’re glad to know it! Watch Stranger Things in a group with your friends and live out your dreams of being the cool kid who has all the “insider Hollywood knowledge.” Also, watch for teen girls kicking monster ass to a Madonna soundtrack. And the lesbians. Always watch for the lesbians.

Carmen is Autostraddle's Associate Editor and a black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 140 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. Maya has all of Uma Thurman’s best qualities. Including her voice. If I close my eyes all I hear is Uma.

    I enjoyed Season 3 overall. Definitely more than Season 2 at least. There were definitely some really cheesy parts. Particularly the Russian subplot.

    As for the reveal of Maya’s sexuality, I’ve seen a lot of criticism from certain parts of the fandom that they were “deceived” because the show spent months of promo and nearly the entire 3rd season pairing Robin with Steve and playing up that potential romance. I have to laugh that they didn’t get the straight pairing that they wanted. Still, it annoys me that now these same people are invalidating Robin’s sexuality and saying that Robin has to be bisexual based on a “look” she gives Steve when that guy asks her if she’s into him. I’m pretty sure the entire point of that bathroom scene was that Robin was turning Steve down after his love confession because she’s not interested in boys at all. I can tell these are kids complaining because we are talking about 80s small town Indiana here. Robin is not just going to out herself to random people. I live in Indiana NOW and I wouldn’t think of doing that shit with everybody I meet. A gay teacher got fired from a high school just last week. Hell to the no.

    • They got straight-baited and they can’t handle it. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

      Robin is amazing. I knew I’d love her from the trailer alone, and the show did not disappoint. Her coming out scene was so sweet. I also can’t believe how much I now love Steve, who I detested in season one. Great character development all around!

  2. I got the sense that Robin was bisexual initially, purely because she says something like: “It’s shocked me to my core, but I like you. I really like you.” So I got an idea that she maybe thought she was gay but had fallen a little for Steve? But then I suppose maybe she just meant it shocked her that she even liked Steve at all (platonically) and then the scene in the video shop made me think that yeah, she probably is a lesbian. It’ll be interesting to see if they explore it further in season 4, if there is one!

    • I thought the show made it pretty clear that she was so dismayed by Steve’s confession, and that she came out to him, because she couldn’t return his feelings. The actress has also called Robin gay in an interview. I think it’s great that the writers gave Steve an awesome new age-appropriate BFF; we don’t see enough strong male/female friendships on TV.

  3. I just finished season 3 and I wanted to say that I’m so glad I saw the headline to this article a few days before I started it so I didn’t have to spend the entire season thinking they had introduced another interesting female character only to force her into a heterosexual relationship. So, thank you for writing this, Carmen!

    Maya Hawke was definitely the highlight of the season for me. I hope season 4 isn’t even about monsters and it’s just Robin and Nancy meeting and falling in love. Also, El and Max break up with their boyfriends again and start dating each other.

    Also, has Hopper always been terrible or was it just this season? I don’t remember hating him in the first two.

    • Yes to a love interest for Robin, but I’m not that big a fan of Nancy. Robin deserves the best. Nancy’s a total badass and hella smart, but I found her romance arcs a bit annoying and whiny.

      Hopper was pretty bad last season too. I lost it when he yelled at Eleven in Season 2 and tried to keep her sequestered in the cabin. I know he’s worried about her safety, but I didn’t think him yelling at her and towering over her contributed to her well-being or sense of safety. Maybe I’ve overthinking it, but those scenes in Season 2 were super cringey.

  4. I was spoiled by this article before I watched so maybe that influenced my perspective, but I never got a romantic vibe between them AT ALL. Robin did not seem to like him even platonically until they had ridiculous Russian fighting adventures whereupon she discovered he wasn’t a douche and shocked herself by realizing he wasn’t one. To be fair, he is pretty douchey. Maybe a cool lesbian friend will improve him.

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