The young adults of Stranger Things have a lot to deal with over the course of Season 4. There are the looming horrors of graduation for Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), the crushing work of running a video store for Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke), and the threat of a paranormal serial killer, Vecna, who murdered the residents of Hawkins. But perhaps no issue weighs on the four as much as their love life, which has gone haywire at the start of the season.
For Nancy and Jonathan, the main issue in their relationship is distance. After three seasons as one of the main “Stranger Things” duos, the two are thousands of miles apart, with Jonathan living in California with his family while Nancy stays in Hawkins. According to Heaton, as the season progresses, Jonathan struggles with the distance between them in a way that’s very realistic for any couple.
“I think what the [Duffer] Brothers did, their writing is always smart, they ground it in reality. There are these two teenagers who promised they would stay together no matter what. And the reality of it will always be much more difficult. I think he was hoping she would come to see him when she doesn’t, so like any form of rejection, it kind of makes him doubt himself and doubt this relationship that means a lot to him”, said Heaton diversity. “It’s hard, distance, distance is a difficult thing in any relationship. It will cause all sorts of crazy problems in the body and mind. So it was fun playing that.”
Back in Hawkins, Nancy reconnects with her ex Steve while working to take down Vecna, with the show hinting at possible romantic feelings between the two resurfacing. Though Dyer enjoyed seeing the two reconnect, she said that whatever happens in Nancy’s love life, she hopes the writing stays true to the character.
“I think it’s really nice for Nancy and Steve to get back together after a few years of developing from there. They’re two characters that really care about each other, so it’s really nice to see that again,” Dyer said. “I want something meaningful for Nancy. I don’t want her to end up with anyone because it feels like she has to. I think she probably has a lot of other things going on.”
Steve’s slur throughout the season results in him picking up girls with ease but finding no one to have a real connection with. According to Keery, Steve’s struggles with his love life reflect his general struggles to find direction in his life.
“If I were Steve’s dad, I’d be like, ‘You’re moving to town,'” Keery said. “Now that he has real support from Robin in his life, I think it would be fun to see him outside of the Hawkins world. He feels so destined to be there for the rest of his life. Also, I’m not sure Steve is really a long-term thinker, he’s more of a short-term thinker. So I think the next day is in many ways the furthest he thinks ahead.”
One character whose romantic prospects are much more hopeful is Robin. After coming out to Steve last season, she is in love with an acquaintance Vickie (Amybeth McNulty) in the opening episodes of season four. For Hawke, the experience of exploring Robin’s love life was a refreshing change from how gay characters are often treated in genre shows where relationships have no focus or priority.
“A lot of times gay characters these days often go gay without doing it, they’re not allowed to kiss or have someone, that’s really a core part of their story,” Hawke said. “Not that there’s kissing there in season. Kissing may or may not be. But there’s real emotion and a real story that’s building and feels like a really great step in Robin’s journey.
“And a really cool move for queer characters in sci-fi that I’m really excited about.”
Stranger Things Season 4 is currently streaming on Netflix.
https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/joe-keery-maya-hawke-natalia-dyer-love-lives-stranger-things-season-4-1235279853/ Stranger Things Season 4 focuses on the love lives of its characters