Stranger Things Spoilers Below. Proceed with caution 😉
I finally finished Stranger Things season 3 last night and it was so depressing. I’m not talking about Hopper’s possible death – because the way it was handled I am relatively certain he will suddenly show back up and have a wild story as to how he survived and why he was stuck wherever he was… Though it made me sad for Elle for sure…
What I’m talking about is Billy.
Oh God, he was a douche. An abusive greasy prick. But the show was clearly trying to turn our sympathies to him by showing us memories of his abusive dad (a storyline they started opening for us in season 2) and the mother he loved leaving him, thereby showing us why he was the way he was and then having him fight against the mind flayer in the end to save Elle and he dies a horrible death.
I just don’t know how I feel about it all. I’m conflicted, because I couldn’t help but have some sympathy for him and have a slight hope he might survive on the pretense that he would redeem himself and generally become a better person.
On the other hand, there were aspects about him that reminded me of the greasy abusive dickheads from my past.
The character himself I could handle in the show – his personality and actions were perfectly in place in a show based in the 1980s – much as the assholes from the Hawkins newspaper office that Nancy had to deal with were.
But, while there was easily brushed off spurts of anxiety when he was on screen – especially when he was being especially dickish or scary – however, once the show started to make allusions to the case for sympathizing with him my anxiety went through the roof.
On a side but related note, my husband mentioned that the station wagon the protagonist group was using when they were trying to get away from Billy was just like the one his family had when he was a kid. This immediately put it in my mind that Wyatt’s family had one as well when I was dating him. A fact that my brain quietly glossed over for me, but was then thrown to the forefront with that comment. Perhaps that increased the effect of the Billy anxiety for me. I dunno.
In the end I must say, I can see the reasoning for defending Billy in the end. He struggled, had Adverse Childhood Events, all sorts of reasons to turn out the way he was. Deep down he wasn’t that person, I suppose. Superficially he had defense mechanisms and learned behaviors to protect himself. I guess. But for me, it’d be hard to… well. I suppose overall I’m the forgiving sympathetic type, but I certainly wouldn’t forget.