'Stranger Things' Newbie Max Is The Empowering Character Young Female Fans Deserve

Ad failed to load

Netflix's beloved sci-fi series has never really lacked well-written female characters, and yet, Stranger Things' new girl on the block Max is an extremely exciting addition. Eleven, a young girl with telekinetic powers, is its focal point for much of the show. Even Nancy, who was first shown merely as a typical high schooler caught up in a whirlwind romance with the popular boy, quickly expanded to fill other roles as well — of a concerned sister, and of someone who may not be as secure in her picture perfect life as she initially seems. Barb was another high point — a girl who didn't quite fit in, and who felt left behind by her best friend. Joyce is also amazing, taking the mystery of her son's disappearance into her own hands against all odds. But in the end, Eleven is still a mostly silent girl with superpowers and little to no social skills, especially at first. She doesn't exactly scream "relatable." Barb was taken from us too soon; Joyce's main role is as a concerned mother; and though Nancy definitely has her badass moments and was a downright joy to watch this season, her story is still largely swaddled in a romantic plot line.

Enter Max.

Well, her full name is Maxine, but don't call her that. She's the new girl at school, and she's immediately noticed by our gang of heroes. Not just because she's an intriguing new face around school — mostly just because she beat Dustin's score on Dig Dug at the local arcade.

Ad failed to load

Max's character is exciting, and it's not just because she's a new lady onscreen who isn't Eleven, Nancy, or one of the kids' mothers. At first glance, she's got the kind of qualities that would make any dopey middle school boy do a double take. She skateboards?! She plays video games?! AND she's a girl?! Who knew such a creature existed? (Um, women did.) But Max isn't here to play into stereotypes. She isn't trying to be "one of the guys" for the sake of getting male attention, and Dustin, Mike, Will and Lucas don't seem to put her on a pedestal because she's "not like other girls." They just like her. If anything, Dustin's more pissed that she beat his high score than anything, at first.

Max doesn't exist to be a token of any kind. She's not here to be just another female face to play off of the boys — the writers actually flesh out her background. She's got issues of her own before being dragged into the Upside Down havoc of Hawkins, Indiana. She's living with her mom and step-dad, she misses her father, and her violent jerk of a step-brother, Billy, is an unholy mullet-haired piece of work. He's controlling, mean, and lashes out at her regularly. Home life isn't great for Max, and she isn't looking for a savior or for love. She just wants some friends to lean on, and the writers make sure to show her at her most vulnerable. She shares with Lucas that she misses her dad, and isn't afraid to show that she's not just some emotionless badass.

Ad failed to load

One of the greatest parts of Max's story is that even after the boys encounter her brother, she's the one who finally gets a message across to him. Even Steve, who's Billy's size and age and could likely take him on — and does a good job of it while it lasts — doesn't hit Billy quite as hard as Max does. She stabs him with a syringe to defend her friends, and then yields a spiked baseball bat like a warrior as she comes at him. She didn't need anyone to save her — Max is the one who laid down the law for her own safety.


Stays true to herself despite the influences around her? Check. Stands up for herself, striking fear into the hearts of aggressive men everywhere? Check. What's even greater, though, is that the writers don't let any of this negate Max's potential for romance. It doesn't take long for Lucas and Dustin to both become interested in her — it's a point of contention between the two, though it never becomes too heated. Her strength and her fierce attitude doesn't make her undateable, and it isn't the reason they want to date her, either. It's also not central to her character — this middle school romance is an afterthought, something that doesn't truly come to fruition until the very last episode of the season. In the end, she's whisked away by Lucas at the school dance, leaving Dustin to endure a few rejections but then happily dance the night away with chaperoning Nancy.

Ad failed to load

Max is the epitome of what every well-written female role should be. She has her flaws — she can be a little tough to crack, a little sarcastic, a little mean. But we see the struggle that made her this way, and we see her desire to change and be loyal to her friends. We even see her plant a kiss on Lucas in the last few scenes, not afraid to show that side of herself. She's a welcome addition to the cast, and we'll hopefully see even more of her next season as she sticks around Hawkins.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Signs Your Partner Is "The One," Even If They Have Commitment Issues

There's nothing better than finding that one person you could actually see yourself spending the rest of your life with. However, realizing that your partner has commitment issues can put a damper on things. It may even have you questioning whether o…
By Kristine Fellizar

Bustle's Editors On Florida + Fergie

Welcome to a new week, Bustle readers! February is already more than halfway through, and the weather feels way more like spring than winter right now — but don't get used to it. There's a lot to recap today, from the latest on the tragic Parkland sh…
By Rachel Simon

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

19 Things Your Parents Told You Were Illegal In The '90s

Kids say — and think — the darnedest things. We have overactive imaginations, adults like to mess with us, and we don't always understand everything we hear. That's why some kids call strawberries "straw babies" — a boo-boo so adorable, you don't eve…
By Megan Grant

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

I Never Want To Write This Essay Again

I don't know where you were when you heard about Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't know what you were doing, or how you tried to process the news. I do know this: you thought to yourself, not again. And yet, again. Of cou…
By Jenny Hollander

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Kate Middleton Made Sales Of This $1 Secret Accessory Spike & She'll Turn You Into A Believer

There's a royal epidemic going on, people. It's one that causes any and everyone to obsess over the royal family's wardrobe and beauty routines, even if it means breaking the bank to look like them. So a frenzy was expected when Kate Middleton report…
By Summer Arlexis

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper