Anyway, in honor of the show that made us all wonder if we should rock a bald cap this Halloween, here’s a breakdown of ’ female leads and their respective levels of betchiness.
There’s not much to say about Karen; she’s pretty much your standard “Mom in a movie mostly about children” character aka your typical Karen. She goes around doing neighborly check-ups on the parents of missing children; tells her kids to stay in the house until the recent child-snatchings have been cleared up (never understand why there’s so much pushback on this very sensible boundary); and is definitely hard on Nancy at times, but it all seems to be in a “I remember my ho-ing days and would like to protect you” fashion. Minus points for her deathly boring husband, but plus points for telling her son they can rent an R-rated movie after Will’s body is found.
Mike: My best friend has been murdered.
Karen: Would some on-screen boobies cheer you up?
I have complicated feelings about Nancy Wheeler. She starts out the show as a classic nice girl, with her handwritten flash cards and lukewarm resistance to banging the school heartthrob (side note: I am glad that high school heartthrobs are now expected to look more like Zac Efron, and less like Steve). But during her nicegirl phase, she’s also kind of a try-hard and a shitty friend, insisting that Barb come along to a party that she’s clearly not invited to, and then immediately distancing herself to seem cool by chugging beer (rarely a great tactic, FYI). BUT, Nancy is also a regulation hottie and legitimately a good person, and by the end of this show, she’s proven herself to be equally fearless when shutting down slut-shaming assholes and fighting literal monsters. Would Nancy be my first-choice pick for a Friday night hang? Prob not, but I would certainly hit her up in any apocalyptic scenarios.
It’s a little hard to judge Joyce fairly here, since we only see her for about three minutes, before she realizes her child has gone missing and is thrown into a (fully understandable) mental breakdown for the rest of the show. Between the chain-smoking, voice-wavering, and Santa-on-crack interior decorating, it’s not exactly textbook betch, but given the circumstances, this happens to be exactly what getting shit done looks like. Despite the whole “are you sure this isn’t your anxiety” spiel that I
get from every doctor I’ve ever seen everyone in town tries to sell her, she sticks to her convictions and is ultimately proven right. Also, she immediately discards any faux-politeness or semblance of chill in this situation, from kicking out Nancy’s casserole-toting mom early on to leveraging her whole missing-son situation into a paycheck advance and/or cigarette allowance. Season one’s circumstances prevented her from being her peak betch self; I’m looking forward to seeing what a slightly more stable but equally ballsy Joyce Byers has to offer.
I think you would be hard-pressed to find an area in which Eleven is not cooler, better, and more useful than you. Terrifying psychokinetic powers and a thousand-yard stare that would shut down the cheeriest Monday morning co-worker? Check. Stealth heartbreaker with a mid-season makeover? Check. Ability to eat whatever she wants without gaining weight? Well, probably more rooted in the fact that she was held in a lab and tortured for most of her life thus far, and I imagine the dining accommodations were not fantastic, but technically, check. Also, let’s just all agree that whatever your daddy issues are, Eleven makes them look stupid in comparison. If Eleven ever gets the chance to grow up with her new pals, I’d be thrilled to see post-pubescent, fully developed El start -ing her way through those who have wronged her, delivering violent justice and excellent bone structure across Indiana. Eleven can definitely sit with us, but TBH I’m not sure we could sit with her.
Dishonorable Mention: Barb Holland
I will never understand the cult following for Barb sparked by this show, which is my way of saying that I’m unwilling to sift through Tumblr and learn about it/figure it out. Her glasses are bad, her outfits are worse, and she shames Nancy for upping her lingerie game. Barb sitting out by the pool pretending to be thinking about anything other than the fact that her best friend is getting boned in the house behind her truly bums me out, and I think her constant “looking out for Nancy” was really just a way to keep Nancy down, so she wouldn’t lose her only friend. Firmly not Team Barb.
For those of you lame enough to still do the whole “costume and party” tradition for Halloween, I’ll see you on the other side. For everyone else: stay hydrated, don’t pace yourselves, and feel free to shush your drunk loser roommates when they interrupt your round one TV binge stumbling home at 3am.
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