Warning: This article contains spoilers from Stranger Things season 3, episode 7, “The Bite.”
It seems fitting that just a few days after WorldPride, one of the biggest shows on TV would introduce its first official LGBTQ character.
In the seventh episode of Stranger Things season 3, Maya Hawke’s Robin comes out to her friend and co-worker Steve (Joe Keery) as they’re coming down from Russian truth serum. Not your typical coming-out story, but nothing about Hawkins, Ind., is standard.
“It’s sort of that John Hughes thing of putting two teen characters together in close quarters,” co-creator Matt Duffer tells EW. “They’re forced to work together, and they start to learn more and more and more about each other and realize there’s more depth to each other than they realized. She comes in with these expectations of who Steve Harrington is; he comes in with these expectations of who Robin is. Then over the course of their adventure together, they learn that the impression they had of each other was completely wrong.”
Adds Hawke, “She gets less sarcastic and more vulnerable and more herself, until finally in the end she has no choice but to be her complete self. I think that to have that scene [set] in the ’80s, and to have that scene on TV in general, I feel really honored to have got to be a part it, and I’m really grateful that the Duffer Brothers wrote it.”
Hawke says that Robin’s coming out was always planned, but it was just about finding the appropriate moment for the character. “We were talking about it throughout [shooting],” says the actress, who also happens to be the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. “It wasn’t definitive. It was a kind of discussion between myself and the writers’ room and the Duffer Brothers and [executive producer] Shawn [Levy]. We were trying to find what was right for Robin and right for the journey and right for the show. But that ended up being my favorite scene to film.”
Adds Matt Duffer, “Maya and Joe spent a long time rehearsing it, not with us. They just went in and worked on it, like workshopped the scene on their own, and then they came and delivered. It was just one of those things that resonated with everybody on the crew. Some scenes you go, ‘I hope that works in the edit room.’ You get it to work. That scene worked on the day, in the edit room — it’s never not worked.”
The scene worked so well that the Duffers didn’t cut a single line of Hawke’s. Says Ross Duffer, “That’s what’s fun about TV: You can put on the brakes for a second and explore these characters and miss all this other blockbuster action playing out.”
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