Created by Matt and Ross Duffer, Netflix’s Stranger Things is a nostalgic ode to the 80s and the age-old genre of sci-fi. Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, the story revolves around a group of children investigating their friend’s mysterious disappearance and encountering a young girl with psychokinetic powers which pushes them down a rabbit hole of mysteries and other metaphysical adventures.
Stranger Things is a concoction of every child’s dream sequence. From nerdy kids on bicycles trying to find their missing friend, a girl with telekinetic powers, dangerous species travelling to and from between dimensions, a wicked bureaucracy and nearly helpless adults, the show is the Duffer brother’s love letter to ’80s behavioural tropes and aesthetics.
Among the many characters on the show, Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven is inarguably one of the strongest and well-liked characters who is also a raging feminist icon every child needs to be in contact with. From rejecting gender roles to subverting stereotypes, Brown does an incredible job as Eleven on the show.
As the elusive Eleven, Brown is absolutely impeccable in her delivery of the laconic dialogues and stoic facial expression; it s this very role that catapulted her into superstardom. Eleven has unfortunately been a sufferer at the hands of corrupt, power-hungry bureaucracy and has been subject to various human experiments in Hawkins National Laboratory which leads to the development of her deadly psychokinetic powers.
The lack of exposure to the real world has not only deprived Eleven of her childhood but also shielded her from existing gender roles. When she is first introduced on the show, Eleven has a shaved head (much to the chagrin of Millie Bobby Brown’s father) and has no regard for her outer appearance. She does not care about the men around her and refuses to budge into their nonsense, ready to snap their necks in half with her powers.
After she escapes, she stumbles upon Mike, Dustin and Lucas who are desperately looking for their missing friend, Will, and agrees to help the boys on this mission quite selflessly. Having been subjected to severe abuse at the psychotic doctor at the lab, Eleven suffers from claustrophobia, trauma and a communication barrier. She fails to express her feelings but shows immense loyalty and courage through her determination to save her friends. Even when Eleven is formed to kill, she is filled with self-loathing.
She is even rejected by her birth mother which hurts her even more. Finally, Eleven finds love in the arms of her adoptive father, Chief Jim Hopper; David Harbour, who plays Hopper, adores Brown in real life as well. Even during her relationship with Mike, Eleven learns to embrace her agency and position with the help of her friend, Max. From standing up against bullies to combating demons and men twice her size, Eleven does not conform to the general stereotypes associated with girls, especially in the 80s.
While the upcoming fourth season will indeed be a terrifying one and has admittedly been a difficult shoot according to Brown, Eleven, in all her glory as a badass icon with a penchant for Eggos, will always endear and amaze us.