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Steve Harrington: Actually a Pretty Damn Good Babysitter

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I will forever be impressed that they took this character from typical jerkish 80s popular boy stereotype to lovable monster hunter and babysitter. He's the character with the least business being involved in any of this Upside Down/government conspiracy stuff and yet, here he is, protecting kids from psycho stepbrothers and monsters.

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Putting him with Dustin, the most likeable character of the younger set was genius and did a lot for his character. Steve's storyline was pretty neatly wrapped up when Nancy ditched him, and he could have easily gone to Offscreen Land.  There is something so amazingly earnest in Keery's performance that shined through even in early S1. I don't know if he was directed to play it that way or if it's just Keery's personality; I lean toward the latter.

I'll go one better and say he had the better storyline than Nancy this season - a core character who is related to another core character at that. They did her a disservice this season by marooning her out in a storyline island.

I liked that his girl advice to Dustin totally backfired, as it should have.

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3 minutes ago, EarlGreyTea said:

Putting him with Dustin, the most likeable character of the younger set was genius and did a lot for his character.

Their odd little friendship made this season for me. I have the impression Dustin doesn't really have a male figure in his life to look up to, and Steve stepped in as the perfect big brother to him. I think Dustin kind of latched onto that while Steve grew very fond of him and felt protective. It was a great relationship for both of them. 

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36 minutes ago, Mabinogia said:

I think Dustin kind of latched onto that while Steve grew very fond of him and felt protective.

Agreed. What's interesting for me is that the only reason Steve ended up involved in any of this in the first place is that he has those protective instincts. In season 1, he only gets involved in the finale because he goes to Jonathan's to apologize for being an asshole. He sees Nancy is hurt, assumes Jonathan did it and jumps in and accidentally gets involved in the demogorgon plot. Then gets an out and jumps back in when he realizes they're still in danger. They did a good job of setting things up to have him believably get involved with the kids this season.

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On 12/5/2017 at 7:20 PM, Mabinogia said:

Their odd little friendship made this season for me. I have the impression Dustin doesn't really have a male figure in his life to look up to, and Steve stepped in as the perfect big brother to him. I think Dustin kind of latched onto that while Steve grew very fond of him and felt protective. It was a great relationship for both of them. 

Yes, most definitely--it seems clear to me that Dustin doesn't have a father/older male figure or role model in his life, and is definitely starting to feel that absence. Steve fills that void nicely and without even meaning to at first. On Steve's side, it seems like he's a bit of a nurturer; he wants to take care of people, provide for them, so Dustin needing him works perfectly. I'm not as enamored with their relationship as others are, but I do think it brought out different facets of both characters in a way that was creatively interesting.

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One thing that bugged me was actually part of the topic quote, namely Steve telling Nancy that he may have been a lousy boyfriend. Was he really? I mean if Nancy really wanted to be with Jonathan (who I personally find lame); that’s her prerogative, but I can’t recall Steve having been painted as a bad boyfriend. Why not correct him on that? He got pretty chill about her being with Jonathan, so how hard is it to say, you weren’t a bad boufriend, you just weren’t the right boyfriend for me? If my liking Steve is making me forget crummy boyfriend behaviour, please correct me. I guess him not noticing how upset she was about Barb could be a sign, but she dropped that pretty much as soon as they broke up.

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I don’t think Steve necessarily believed that he was a truly bad boyfriend; I got the impression he said that largely to make the official breakup easier on Nancy. (And maybe himself—it’s easier to think she didn’t want to be with him because he wasn’t a good boyfriend than to think that he did everything right and she STILL preferred Jonathan to him. Perhaps especially for a teenage boy.) And I think Nancy knew that too.

I do think Steve made some missteps—basically not listening to Nancy when she kept saying in different ways “I can’t just go back to normal, stop pushing me to do that,” because I do think it was clear that he kept pushing for normality even after she kept indicating she couldn’t do that—but it’s not enough to qualify him as a really bad boyfriend in my book, just one who isn’t emotionally compatible with Nancy and wasn’t sensitive to what she needed. I can see how Steve might think that makes him a not-great boyfriend though, especially since he’s 18 and doesn’t have much life experience yet.

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On 12/11/2017 at 11:48 AM, bijoux said:

One thing that bugged me was actually part of the topic quote, namely Steve telling Nancy that he may have been a lousy boyfriend. Was he really? I mean if Nancy really wanted to be with Jonathan (who I personally find lame); that’s her prerogative, but I can’t recall Steve having been painted as a bad boyfriend. Why not correct him on that? He got pretty chill about her being with Jonathan, so how hard is it to say, you weren’t a bad boufriend, you just weren’t the right boyfriend for me? If my liking Steve is making me forget crummy boyfriend behaviour, please correct me. I guess him not noticing how upset she was about Barb could be a sign, but she dropped that pretty much as soon as they broke up.

It also kind of walked back one of the things that I really liked about season 1, namely when Nancy called Jonathan on his bullshit while they were in the woods.  The most incompatible moment between them (I thought) was when they were talking in his car about how he didn't mind not going to college because they would be able to stay together.  It showed that he was thinking of his future as an extension of being her boyfriend (and future husband, devoted, but a little immature) whereas she was thinking about where her life could take her in a more grounded and practical way.   It was a very true to them both kind of moment.  

 

I think she was a worse girlfriend than he was a boyfriend.  He seemed to spend a fair amount of time doing unpleasant things only for her benefit.  As far as I saw, he was very emotionally supportive a ton of times, and only really tried once to get Nancy to cheer up and fake it the one time before the party.  I think he was more just out of his depth with the whole survivors guilt thing.  Nancy could probably get more from a therapist at this point than a new boyfriend, however arty and sensitive he might be.  

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On 12/11/2017 at 6:48 PM, bijoux said:

One thing that bugged me was actually part of the topic quote, namely Steve telling Nancy that he may have been a lousy boyfriend. Was he really? I mean if Nancy really wanted to be with Jonathan (who I personally find lame); that’s her prerogative, but I can’t recall Steve having been painted as a bad boyfriend. Why not correct him on that? He got pretty chill about her being with Jonathan, so how hard is it to say, you weren’t a bad boufriend, you just weren’t the right boyfriend for me? If my liking Steve is making me forget crummy boyfriend behaviour, please correct me. I guess him not noticing how upset she was about Barb could be a sign, but she dropped that pretty much as soon as they broke up.

I don’t find Jonathan lame at all. He’s a much more believable boyfriend for Nancy than Steve could ever be. Nancy’s a smart girl, and at the end of the day, smart girls like smart boys. Steve isn’t one, and that’s not going to change. Their marriage would’ve been extremely unhappy and unfulfilling for both of them. 

Teenage girls often have self esteem issues and having a popular jock like Steve take an interest in you is flattering. I don’t think Nancy ever truly liked Steve for him, but for the idea of being with someone like him and what that said about her. It happens at that age. Then Barb’s death changed her and made her mature faster than she perhaps otherwise would’ve. 

However, I doubt that this is the kind of stuff Steve likes to think about (that he basically never stood a chance with Nancy no matter what he did). Blaming himself was easier, whether he really believed in it or not. 

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As I was watching him and Dustin discuss Robin, and later her describing him, I realized I had completely forgotten how big a douche Steve was at first.  And how much he has changed since the first episode.

The Steve Harrington we first met would not have acknowledged Dustin, and the rest of the kids, much less have been friends with them.  Now he is sneaking them into theaters, and has a special handshake with Dustin, who is willing to die with Steve.  I love the progression of characters on this show, Steve’s most of all I think.  

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It's funny, I did a re-watch in preparation for season three and the very first mention we get of Steve is actually from Dustin. He says that Nancy's changed, "because she's been dating that douchebag, Steve Harrington."

Those two truly started from the bottom, and now look where they are.

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I started watching the show this month per my friend's recommendation and at first I couldn't stand Steve. I called him "that loser with the Edward Cullen hair".

"Just wait," my friend kept saying. "He really changes."

And she was right because holy crap Steve is now my favorite character. Well played, Duffers.

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