'Stranger Things' season 3: Mike and Eleven's relationship is the most nuanced teen romance ever
More than codependency, Mileven's is a relationship filled with the most seasoned and mature form of trust than what we have seen in their contemporaries.
This article contains spoilers for season 3.
'Stranger Things' season 3 gave us a lot of things to compensate for the two-year gap, but amidst evil Russian scientists and the Mind Flayer trying to take Hawkins down, what managed to touch us the most was the nuanced relationship between two central characters - Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The two immediately hit it off after Mike found Eleven as a lost and clueless child in season 1 and from there began their incredible journey of sticking together, still as kids, while Mike did his best to protect her until she was adopted by Jim Hopper (David Harbour.) And then their friendship turned into the most innocent, heartwarming kiss ever at the end of season 2. And things only get better with season 3, because this is where they step into teenage and conflicts arise - something that a lot of fans have complained isn't as endearing as their friendship was.
Season 3 kicks off with both Mike and Eleven being of freshman age at high school and their relationship has clearly skyrocketed. They spend most of the time together after having discovered the wonders of making out and the only times they are not joined at the lips is when Hopper barges into Eleven's bedroom complaining about her door not being three inches open at all times. A very frustrated Hopper, after failing to bring himself to speak sense into them, decides to scare Mike into not seeing her. And even in that case, Mike proves to be the best boyfriend ever and doesn't divulge why he has been lying to Eleven and keeping away from her.
This is where their relationship gets interesting though as we really get to see Eleven as a person, and not as a shadow of Mike. Armed with feminist ideals courtesy her new BFF Max, Eleven is able to stand up to Mike because "friends don't lie", and discovers a whole new world without "stupid boys." With Max's help, she actually travels to their town's latest attraction, the Starcourt Mall and indulges in typically teen girl stuff like clothes, ice cream, and makeup. Mike, however, spends most of the time moping around with his friend Lucas as both of them struggle to win the affection of their lady loves, and even when Mike's protective nature over Eleven seems a bit too much, it never comes off as overbearing because the boy really does not want to lose her again.
The major reason behind their conflict happens to be Mike's need to protect Eleven at all times, while she wants him to trust her in her decisions. Almost as if like a parent, Mike cannot fathom the idea that Eleven could be out alone in the real world. But where he is too blinded to see that she has evolved as a teenager too, it is Eleven's constant urges to trust him in knowing her limits, that keeps him grounded. So even if Mike could come off as the annoying boyfriend who can't grasp the idea of his girlfriend having a life that extends beyond his sole company, his one solid argument claiming "Eleven is not a machine" is what redeems all the silly stuff he does to make sure Eleven listens to him and doesn't exhaust her telekinetic powers despite the fact that the rest of them are pushing her to.
Even after Eleven loses her powers, in the season finale, we see Mike constantly reassuring her that they will come back because like a battery, she just needs to recharge. And let's not forget that every time Eleven is in harm's way and absolutely crumbles after using an intense gush of her powers, she crashes in Mike's arm. More than codependency, it's a relationship filled with the most seasoned and mature form of trust that we have seen in its contemporaries. Let's be real, other than Mike's older sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and her boyfriend Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), Mileven are the only sorted couple on the show this season. Guess it runs in the family!
Moreover, Millie Bobby Brown has recently dished on just how perfect Mileven's relationship is, telling Digital Spy that she "always saw them in love". So that's that on that, haters. The way Eleven pretty much glows whenever she is around Mike, and the way they steal secret glances at each other, and of course, the way Mike feels so passionately about Eleven as a person, and not just a storehouse of superhuman power - it's all too precious and too pure for the world. Even their first I love yous are so timely and so spontaneous, none of it feels like a relationship was forced too soon on a friendship. Yes, they were brilliant as best friends, but they are pretty much epic as boyfriend and girlfriend. Let's hope season four reunites them once again!
'Stranger Things' season 3 premiered on July 4 and is available for streaming on Netflix.