Warning: This article contains Stranger Things Season 3 spoilers. Fans of Stranger Things have been waiting for this third season a long time, so you know responses were passionate — if not entirely positive. A celebrity fan weighed in this week: Evan Rachel Wood, who slammed Stranger Things‘ Hopper storyline on Twitter. According to Wood, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) behaves in toxic, controlling ways toward burgeoning love interest Joyce (Winona Ryder) and daughter-figure Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The character’s demeanor has “red flags galore,” the actor says, and Netflix should be careful not to normalize this treatment of women.
Wood’s issues start with how Hopper treats Joyce while he’s attempting to woo her — a mission that quickly takes on troubling undertones. “You should never date a guy like the cop from ‘Stranger Things,’” Wood writes on Twitter. “Extreme jealousy and violent rages are not flattering or sexy like TV would have you believe. That is all.” Some fans found her assessment too harsh, and urged her to reconsider — but Wood was having none of it, and responded with the following: “Yes I am aware it’s ‘just a show’ and its set ‘in the 80s,’ even though this stuff was unacceptable then too, but thats exactly my point. It’s just a show and this is a gentle reminder not to fall for this crap in real life. Red flags galore.”
Wood got more specific in a later tweet about what behavior of Hopper’s really set her off. “She rescheduled the date he yelled and got in her face about [it],” she writes, “while policing every guy she spoke to. No thanks.”
Wood isn’t the only person to find Hopper’s behavior upsetting, with an earlier IndieWire review saying his arc this season brings up “sexist double standards” — and doesn’t necessarily refute them. It dwells specifically on Hopper’s attempts to stop Eleven’s relationship with Mike. “Hopper trying to break up his daughter’s first romance? Ew. Hopper tricking Joyce into a date? Pass,” reviewer Ben Travers writes. “Hopper walking around like the women in his life owe him something? No, thank you.”
However you ultimately feel about Hopper (and Stranger Things as a whole), let’s agree that it’s a good thing when behavior like this gets called out. It doesn’t mean we can never show it on TV, but the Netflix hit has a young enough fanbase that we don’t want to risk presenting a skewed idea of how men should treat women they care about. For decades, toxic male love interests have dominated our TV screens: What’s wrong with wanting to usher in a new, enlightened era?
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