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Nancy Wheeler is the best character in Stranger Things and that’s that
Having just finished watching Season 3 of ‘Stranger Things’, I came to a sudden, world-altering realisation: Nancy’s my fave character. Sure, Eleven is awesome, with her badass superpowers and naivety about the 80s world. Hopper is like everyone’s grumpy uncle, so you can’t help but love him. Steve has awesome hair and is the Mom of the Year, so naturally I love him. But Nancy, dear, sweet badass take-no-shit Nancy, is the true heart stealer of the show. Obvs, they’ll be scoops spoilers ahoy ahead, so you’ve been warned. So, where are we at with Nancy? She’s had quite the rollercoaster ride in the sleepy town of Hawkins since the show began. She’s gone from being the preppy schoolgirl who dated the Prom King, to a straight up demon-shooting badass, all while maintaining her femininity. I think it’s important to show strong girls of all different varieties, and Nancy keeping her pretty dresses and big hair is a great part of maintaining that narrative. Throughout most of Season 3, Nancy’s grown up. She’s wearing dresses for pretty much the entire series, all while saving the world from dark, dangerous demons (Buffy vibes, anyone?). Femininity has always been etched with Nancy’s character, right from the get go. From packing pink nightwear in S2 to strutting around Hawkins in a pastel dress in S3, she’s a multi-dimensional character; formed and shape like a real person. See, people aren’t cardboard cutouts of “strong woman = butch, manly” or “feminine woman = soft, weak”, but rather a glorious mixture of the two. People come in all shades and hues, and the way that the Duffer Brother chose to paint Nancy is, at least in my humble opinion, a perfect way to show off how girls can be tough. This season, Nancy’s paired off with Jonathan (remember when he was taking snaps of her without her knowing? That was… a choice). She’s given glorious-hair-Steve-Harrington the boot, told him that she doesn’t wanna stay in Hawkins forever (though, ironically, it’s Jonathan who ends up leaving at the end of the season), and her resilient search for her best pal Barb (RIP) in S1 has led her to the path of investigative journalism. Yes bitch! You got this. One of the highlights of ‘Stranger Things’ season 3 was seeing Nancy deal with the dickhead men in her office. They were constantly berating her, downplaying her skills, reducing her to nothing more than a skivvy. Nancy always stood her ground. She followed her gut, following her lead to investigate the weird mutant rats that she knew were up to something. While it was one of the weirder parts of the show – kick starting your career by writing about mutant rats is a tad strange, Nancy – seeing how she deals with her obstacles is still a treat. It’s also an eye-opening insight into what women had to (and, in some cases, still do) put up with in their quest to climb the career ladder. Right at the beginning of the show, she states: “They don’t like me or respect me as a living, breathing human being.” She knows that the dickhead Donald Trump impersonator doesn’t value her, yet she’s willing to grin and bear it and hustle her way to the top anyway, all while sticking with her integrity. You go, girl. It makes it all the more satisfying to see them all turn into gloop by the end of the show. From this also comes that beautiful scene with Nancy and her mother. After being fired for insisting on pursuing her story, her mom comforts her, stating: “Most people just stop trying, but you’re not like that. You’re a fighter.” Damn right she is, and that’s why I love her. Nancy always take the lead, too. She’s not a damsel in distress type, who lets the men rescue her from her gilded cage. Oh no, Nancy is always there to take her destiny in her own hands and kick ass. Seeing her defend her brother and pals from a possessed Billy driving at them full speed, firing bullet after bullet at him, reinforces just what a badass character Nancy is. There’s also the moment in Season 2, where Hopper asks if anyone knows how to work a gun. Jumping straight in, Nancy says that she can – damn right she can – and uses it to protect those she loves. That’s my girl. She’s the one with the gun, and you can bet your ass that she’s gonna fire it. Another reason why Nancy is the absolute BOSS is that although she’s pretty much always involved romantically – or, at least, a large chunk of her plot focuses on her boy drama – it doesn’t define her. Rather, she defines her relationships. She doesn’t put up with any buuuuuuullshit from Steve (a line I still quote on a daily basis and nobody has a clue what I’m on about), nor does she let Jonathan stand in the way of getting what she wants from life. Whether it’s in regards to her romantic life or when she’s fighting Demo-dogs – Nancy rarely relinquishes control of her own narrative, which makes her one badass role model. That’s not to say that Nancy’s without her faults. Any well-rounded character should have negative traits; otherwise they fall flat and boring. Nancy’s head-strong, reckless and selfish. She acts first and thinks last, usually failing to consider how her actions can affect herself or others around her. But this makes her human. It makes the claim that she’s a Mary Sue (seriously, there isn’t a well-used male counterpart to this, so the term is inherently sexist), all the more ridiculous. Whatever the future holds for Nancy, whether it’s riding off into the sunset with Jonathan, pursuing her journalism career or hunting down stray demons from the Upside Down, I hope that season 4 of Stranger Things does good by our girl. She’s put up with a lot of crap over the years, all while remaining fiercely loyal to those she holds dear. Whatever happens, I can’t wait to see where her storyline takes us to next. Can’t scratch that ‘Stranger Things’ itch? Check out my review of Season 3 right here. Or, for more quirky Netflix shows, look at everything we know about ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2, so far… Related