'Stranger Things' season 3 gave us BBF goals with Max and Eleven and their friendship forged in feminism
Max uses classic tropes like Wonder Woman comics, malls, clothes, fashion, and makeup to distract Eleven from feeling the absence of Mike's overbearing protection around her.
This article contains spoilers for season 3.
'Stranger Things' season 3 packs a lot more than it had promised. Not only are gooey, gory monsters making a comeback in the form of the Mind Flayer, but summer in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, is also loaded with colorful poolside fun and an active indulgence in teen romance, with just the right amount of budding friendships. Season 3 might be defined by the sweet, chaste, but deep bond shared by Mileven - aka Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) - but side by side, what also proves to be a highlight of this season is Eleven's identity outside of being Mike's girlfriend. It gains prominence with her blooming friendship with Max (Sadie Sink), which is all sorts of unique and refreshing, to say the least.
Mike and Eleven are your classic teenagers who have just realized the sheer magic and thrill of making out. The only times they are not making out is when Eleven's foster-guardian-turned-dad Jim Hopper (David Harbour) barges into the room and insists on Eleven's bedroom door being 'three inches apart' at all times. Tired of not being able to speak sense into the kids, and failing at his own attempts at being the mature, sensible dad, Hopper decides to threaten Mike into toning down his communication with Eleven and that ends up in a disaster.
When Eleven finds out that Mike has been lying to avoid seeing her, we see a comeback of the classic "Friends don't lie" line as Eleven reminds Mike of that and clearly states "I dump you." The main inspiration behind Eleven saying those strong words obviously is Max, whom she develops the sweetest bond with after Max is able to convince her that she doesn't need Mike to be her own person. Eleven and Mike's relationship is saturated with codependency because he was the first human she met after coming out of the entrapment she was locked in. And Mike, having seen her through so much, has always been overly protective of the strange telekinetic kid who eventually became his girlfriend. But it is Max who is able to help Eleven realize that she doesn't need Mike's protection, she can make her own decisions and be her own person.
She uses classic tropes like the Wonder Woman comics and malls, clothes, fashion, and makeup to distract Eleven from feeling the absence of Mike's overbearing protection around her. The two girls prance about the Starcourt Mall, try out new clothes, eat ice cream, travel in public transport (without Mike and Hopper knowing, of course) and do signature 80's teen things which adds a salient rom-com vibe to the season, something the show hasn't indulged in, in the past. It is also Max's support and friendship that empowers Eleven to stand up to Mike when he says she is not following their rules. She says "I make my own rules." It's simply otherworldly, watching Eleven being groomed with subtle feminist ideals which just blend in despite the setting of the show.
Speaking about how this super realistic friendship transcends beyond the screen, Sink shared in an exclusive interview with MEAWW that "There really wasn't much wooing that had to happen," between her and Brown. "There was just kind of like this automatic bond. I think being two girls close in age obviously helped with the bond and it was a really good transition. It was easy, and I felt really welcome!"
'Stranger Things' season 3 premiered on July 4 and is available for streaming on Netflix.