It only took 3 seasons, but the Netflix smash-hit Stranger Things finally delivered to us its first openly queer character. While Maya Hawke’s character Robin was clearly being set up as a foil for her Scoops Ahoy co-worker Steve Harrington, it’s not until near the end of the short season that we learn the truth: she’s a lesbian.
“I’m not like your other friends,” she says to Steve. “And I am not like Nancy Wheeler.”
Hawke, the daughter of actors Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, clearly inherited her parents’ acting chops. In a show that initially struggled to empower its female characters (“Justice for Barb!”) beyond how they relate to the men in the show, it was nice to see Robin become a bonafide partner in crime to the Starcourt Mall crew right out of the gate. It was also nice to see Hawke channeling a clear Natasha Lyonne vibe in her characterization of Robin.
“She gets less sarcastic and more vulnerable and more herself,” Hawke told EW about the character, “until finally, in the end, she has no choice but to be her complete self. I think that to have that scene [set] in the ’80s, and to have that scene on TV in general, I feel really honored to have got to be a part it, and I’m really grateful that the Duffer Brothers wrote it.”
The show is well known for honoring the influences of the Duffer Brothers, the show’s creators. This season they claimed to have been influenced by everything from The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Romancing the Stone and Midnight Run. But there’s also a specific genre of 1980’s teen comedies that most influenced the way Robin and Steve got along with one another.
“It’s sort of that John Hughes thing of putting two teen characters together in close quarters,” co-creator Matt Duffer said to EW. “They’re forced to work together, and they start to learn more and more and more about each other and realize there’s more depth to each other than they realized.”
While Season 3 Steve takes Robin’s admission in stride, it would be interesting to know how Season 1 Steve would’ve reacted. It’s not very surprising though that, in a 1980’s mid-American small town suspiciously devoid of racism, he would’ve reacted that way.
But Hawke and Joe Kerry both seem to have an incredible chemistry with one another, whether it’s sniping over Steve’s attempts at ice cream counter pick up lines, or being tied to together in the bowels of a secret underground bunker. All while wearing Scoops Ahoy sailor suits.
“We just developed a good energy going and it was just playful and funny and kind of laid back,” said Hawke of her chemistry with Keery. “I happen to really like my sailor suit,” she added, “but Joe didn’t like his. But I really liked mine.”
While it remains to be seen what will become of Robin in future seasons of the show, it’s doubtful that the Duffer brothers would let the potential of the wise-cracking, whip-smart character go to waste.