Steve & Dustin's Friendship In 'Stranger Things' Season 2 Was A Total Accident
Nothing bonds people quite like sharing hair-care secrets and hunting demodogs, as Stranger Things Season 2's best bromance illustrates so beautifully. But according to series creators Matt and Ross Duffers' recap of "The Spy" for Vulture, Steve and Dustin's friendship was a happy accident. That's right, Steve and Dustin's bonding over Farrah Fawcett Hairspray wasn't part of the original pitch for the show's second season arc, it was born out of necessity during the writing process.
It wasn't until the Duffers realized that Steve was being sidelined as Nancy and Jonathan's relationship developed that the guys came up with an idea to keep him in the action. Since Dustin was dealing with a broken heart too, he became the obvious choice to pull Steve into the kids' storyline. Matt explained to Vulture,
"Obviously, Steve had just lost Nancy, and Dustin's first crush was not going very well with Max. They're an odd couple, but they're bonded in that way. We thought they could each help each other get over their heartbreak."
From that nugget of inspiration, one of the show's best friendships was born. The coolest guy in high school and one of the nerdiest kids in middle school may not seem like they have much in common on the outside, but Steve and Dustin proved to be far more alike than either of them ever expected. Their friendship is so strong that Steve ends up driving Dustin to the Snow Ball dance in the finale, just like a proud (and nervous) big brother.
Not only did Steve and Dustin have to deal with heartbreak this season, they also both experienced the feeling of being on the outside of their friend groups. It's implied that Steve has drifted away from his friends after the events of Season 1, and he doesn't have a post-high school plan lined up. In many ways, it seems like he's put all of his energy into his relationship with Nancy to avoid thinking about the future. When the breakup occurs, the reality that he's not sure what comes next for him appears to hit home.
Meanwhile, Dustin is dealing with his friends growing up at a faster rate than he is. Sure, he has a crush on Max, but he's still more interested in catching slimy pets and planning the perfect Halloween costume. While Lucas is growing closer to Max, Mike and Will are bonding over their shared Upside Down-related traumas, and Dustin is left very much on his own to deal with the Dart problem. It's no wonder the Duffers decided to bring Steve and Dustin into each other's orbit — from a character standpoint, their situations were surprisingly similar.
As soon as the Duffers started writing for Steve and Dustin, they knew they had something special. In the Vulture interview, Matt said,
"The minute we started writing them together — at this point, we knew the voices of the actors so well, and they just seemed to work really well together. It was like two very different notes that played really nicely together."
Steve and Dustin needed each other, and the fan reaction to the unexpected pals suggests that the Stranger Things community needed them too. They even won over the hearts of the Duffers. Matt told Vulture of the friendship, "That’s my favorite thing this year. Or my favorite surprise, because it was never planned."
If you don't ship Nancy and Jonathan for any other reason, then you should at least be grateful for the their romance pushing the writers to find something to do with Steve. Because without them, Season 2 may have been missing the glorious moment when Steve Harrington divulged the secret to his majestic hair just to cheer up Dustin. And what kind of world would that be?
Stranger Things Season 2 still would have been good, but Steve and Dustin's unexpected bromance helped make it truly great.