Editor’s note: This story contains spoilers for Season 3 of “Stranger Things.”
Throughout Season Three, fans of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” surely speculated that dream team Robin and Steve (a.k.a. “The Hair”) were going to become an item. But the fact that this turned out to be false says something deeper about how we look at relationships in film and TV. The slow-burning, will-they-or-won’t-they onscreen coupling of Robin and Steve in “Stranger Things” has helped to redefine standards for heteronormative pairings on television.
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According to Maya Hawke, who stars as Robin, her character’s coming-out story was not originally part of the script. “Throughout filming, we started to feel like she and [Steve] shouldn’t get together, and that she’s gay. Even when I go back and watch earlier episodes, it just seems like the most obvious decision ever,” she said. Viewers expecting to see that just because two attractive people onscreen with chemistry have to end up together were no doubt met with surprise.
Hawke added that the decision to identify Robin as gay happened midseason. “The Duffer brothers and I, and Shawn Levy had a lot of conversations throughout shooting and it wasn’t really until we were shooting episode four and five, I think, that we made the final decision,” she said. “It was kind of a collaborative conversation, and I’m really, really happy with the way that it went.”
Throughout the season, the romantic tension between Steve and Robin is palpable, but when he finally musters the nerve to confess his feelings, he’s met with Robin’s emotional reveal. Hawke hopes that the scene inspires viewers to discover their own truths.
“Sometimes we can have empathy for people on screen that we wouldn’t normally have empathy for in real life,” she said. “If I can hope for anything it’s that maybe some people fell in love with Robin and that helped them fall in love with girls who love girls and boys who love boys.”
Hawke added, “I loved Robin, and I gave her everything I had, and I tried to make her as human and multidimensional as I could, and I wanted people to love her. But honestly when you bring a new character onto a TV show that is already so beloved, it’s very rare that it’s received that well… and I’m so grateful that people fell in love with Robin the way that I did.”
“Stranger Things” is currently available to stream on Netflix.