If you, too, binged your way through Season 2 of Stranger Things at a furious speed, congratulations! And now that you’re here, let’s dive into one big thing about the season that I just can’t shake: Eleven is so mean to Max.
Season 2 of the Netflix show split up our heroes, and sent them all in different directions in order to save the day. Everyone got their own mini-adventure, and Eleven’s might have been the biggest. Turns out, since we last saw her, she’s been hiding out in Police Chief Jim Hopper’s cabin in the woods, eating Eggos and watching TV — and honestly, that sounds like the dream. Aside from the fact that Eleven is completely secluded from everyone, she’s not living a bad life (especially when you compare it to the life she escaped).
Meanwhile, Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas are still being tween boys together, and fighting about who is forced to be Winston in their Ghostbusters group. Oh, also there’s a new kid in school, and it’s a girl. Not only that, this new girl is a ~cool girl~. Her name is Max, she has a skateboard, and she is really good at Dig Dug. Both Dustin and Lucas immediately develop a crush on Max, causing some tween boy tension in their group.
While Will barely interacts with Max, Mike is forced to interact with Max a couple of times. For the most part, he is curt with her because he 1) clearly still misses Eleven and feels that the other boys are trying to get Max to replace her, and 2) has bigger things to worry about, like the monster that’s in Will. Understandable.
Eleven actually sees Mike being mean to Max during one of these instances — but she doesn’t realize it. Eleven (who came to the school looking for Mike, because she’s escaped from Hopper’s cabin for the day) sees Mike and Max talking, and doesn’t realize that Mike doesn’t like her like that. Eleven becomes visibly upset.
Then, Eleven uses her powers to knocks Max off her skateboard.
This is very out of place for a tween girl, and I’m still trying to figure it out. Since I once was Eleven and Max’s age, I know that girls just don’t push girls — instead, we spread rumors about the other girl around the hallways and then purposely not invite that someone to a sleepover to really twist the knife. I’m rather shocked by Eleven’s action during this season of Stranger Things.
On the other hand, I sort of get it? Eleven is not a regular tween girl, and has never been to school before. She’s acting on instinct rather than emotions. In the context of her character, I guess it makes sense.
Obviously, Max has no idea what has happened; she doesn’t realize Eleven’s behind this. Throughout the whole season, she keeps hearing about how awesome and cool Eleven is, and has no reason to think otherwise. When the two finally come face to face, Max is excited. She has literally no reason to dislike Eleven, and instead does the common thing of OMG THERE IS ANOTHER GIRL HERE, LET’S BE FRIENDS.
…and then Eleven is like “hard pass.”
Max is clearly upset that Eleven breezes right by her, since all she’s trying to do is make a new friend. The fact that Eleven so quickly brushes Max away is infuriating. Eleven thinks she is meeting the new crush of her guy, so yes, she’s pissed. But if you are meeting the new crush of your guy you grit through your teeth and offer a friendly hello and slowly die inside. You don’t brush past them like a major b.
So once again, is this happening because Eleven just doesn’t behave and act like a tween girl? Does she not care? It’s just so uncharacteristically unlike a girl age 11-13. Even age 22-35! Even for Stranger Things, set in 1984! Everything else about Eleven’s emotions are pretty close to how they should be for her age, except for this. Girls can be cruel, yes, but like 90% of the time it’s behind each other’s back. Like if Eleven really wanted to hurt Max she’d just spread the rumor she can’t really skateboard to everyone or something like that.
And, on top of all of this, young girls are already super fragile as it is, and right now we are in the midst of this great revolution where women support women, and like ELEVEN CAN YOU GET IT TOGETHER FOR OUR SAKE, PLEASE. Even if Max steals yo’ boy, this isn’t a reason to resort to being mean to her. It is a middle school crush, and maybe it’ll last through eighth grade.
Eleven, you have bigger things to worry about, and more important ways to be badass, and please take Max with you on your powerful lady journey during Season 3 of Stranger Things. Please. I’m not saying you need to make friendship bracelets together, but you can at least be cordial to the other. Come on, Eleven. You’re better than treating one of your female peers like this.