Now that the dust—or whatever you call that stuff that the spores from the Upside Down shot into Hopper’s mouth—has settled on Stranger Things Season 2, it’s time to take a look back on the season and assess. The best way to do this, of course, is to hand out awards for the season—both good and bad. Who was the MVP of Stranger Things Season 2? Who was the most improved? Which character was the unjustly sidelined? And finally, which actor will improbably be nominated for an Emmy Award after an overwhelming viral movement? Without further ado, here are the Stranger Things 2 Awards.
Worst Advice: Bob
Our own Miles Surrey touched on this in his laudatory Bob (Sean Astin) piece, but it deserves further examination. To set the scene, Will Byers—the son of Bob’s girlfriend—is having episodic seizures and visions of a giant evil monster hunting him. In Bob’s eyes, though, since he was not around for Season 1 and has no clue that Will nearly died in another dimension called the Upside Down, the episodes merely seem like nightmares. So one day, he’s like, “You know, all you have to do to get rid of these things is stop being such a scaredy cat and grow up, ya nerd.”
Will takes that advice, and the next time he has a vision, instead of running from the monster, he stays in place and merely yells, “Go away!” The monster does not go away; it penetrates every orifice of Will’s face for, like, a good minute. And then it possesses Will for the rest of the season.
Bob’s advice to Will could not have been worse. And really, everything bad that happens for the rest of Season 2 is tied back to Will being possessed by the monster. So in a way, Bob’s advice is responsible for:
- The deaths of everyone at the Hawkins Lab
- The near-death of Will Byers
- Will Byers’s inability to take a bath ever again
- Bob’s own death
- Joyce Byers’s ongoing stress and irreparably broken heart
I get that he was just trying to be a Helpful Boyfriend, but maybe next time—actually, sorry, there won’t be a next time—Bob should refrain from giving advice in situations for which he doesn’t have all of the information.
Most Actually Deserving of an Emmy Nomination: Noah Schnapp
On the bright side, though, without Bob’s bad advice, Noah Schnapp would have never been able to take center stage. As the possessed Will Byers, Schnapp has so much heavy lifting to do, and he’s up to the challenge all season long. Look at this 13-year-old’s physicality:
Schnapp also nails the quieter moments, the ones in between the freakouts when Will Byers is both exhausted and terrified of what’s happening to him. The opening scene of Season 2’s fourth episode—in which Joyce talks Will down immediately after his possession—is a master class in nuanced, empathetic acting.
Last year, Shannon Purser was nominated for an Emmy for playing Barb in only a handful of scenes. It was a bit silly. If Schnapp gets nominated next year, it won’t be a joke at all.
Worst Friend: Dustin
If you’re friends with Will Byers, there are basically two rules:
- Don’t let him out of your sight
- Don’t forget that time he was captured and nearly murdered by a demon-beast from an interdimensional world
PRETTY EASY STUFF, right? Apparently not, because Dustin breaks those rules right away in Stranger Things Season 2. Not only does he leave Will alone to be haunted by a smoke monster multiple times, but he also discovers a little slug monster in his trash can and adopts it as a pet—without once thinking, “Hey, maybe this is related to the horrorfest that happened less than a year ago.” Even after Mike tells Dustin that Will recognizes Dart—he named the frickin’ thing—from the Upside Down, Dustin continues to keep it, lying to all of his friends about it in the process.
This is galling behavior from a so-called “friend.” I hope Season 3 starts with the rest of the group banishing Dustin from A/V Club.
Hardest Working Upper Lip: Billy’s
The remarkable thing about Billy’s mustache is that it looks like it’s always been there; like he was born with a shadow on his upper lip. It’s so central to his being—without it he wouldn’t really be Billy at all.
Best Depiction of a High-School-Aged Farva From ‘Super Troopers’: This Guy
You see it too, right?
Best/Most Awkward/Sexiest Scene in a PG-Rated Television Show: Mike’s Mom and Billy
As Season 2 raced to its finish line, no way did it seem like there would be time for the show to dive into such frivolity. But thank goodness it did, early on in the season finale when Billy interrupted Mike and Nancy’s mom’s bubble bath. The exchange is best relived through screenshots.
FYI: Those candles behind Mrs. Wheeler’s head are only two of, like, 70.
Can I just point out that in later scenes in this episode, Billy’s shirt is buttoned? That means he expected either Nancy or Nancy’s mom to open the door and was like, “I better pop this shit open.”
This is a line used by all overdeveloped high school movie villains, by the way.
Most of the time, Stranger Things is a light sci-fi television show about 12-year-olds fighting back evil monsters, but for two and a half glorious minutes it was an erotic paperback novel come to life.
Most: Joe Keery
In Season 1, Steve Harrington was a guy with a haircut. Since then, he—and the actor who plays him, Joe Keery—has become one of the only purely good things in popular culture. To be fair, we should have all seen this coming when Keery successfully rebooted Ferris Bueller’s Day Off within a DOMINO’S COMMERCIAL.
Over the course of Season 2, Steve transformed into the show’s best character. He earned “sad boyfriend” points early in the season (a net positive, in terms of perception) when Nancy got drunk and dumped him; the scene where he says, “Tell me you love me,” is extremely real and sad.
Then, just when you thought he’d be a pointless character without Nancy by his side, he levels up and turns into Steve the Babysitter, specifically pairing up with Dustin.
Name a more iconic duo. I will wait.
As the gang’s eldest member, Steve was a rare combination of cool and nice. It’s extremely rare that your older sister’s boyfriend is mature and self-aware enough to admit that he uses Farrah Fawcett hairspray, or to drive you to the middle school dance and give you tips on how to get girls. But that was Steve in Stranger Things Season 2.
And beyond that, Joe Keery proved his status as a cultural treasure. There’s the Domino’s ads, of course, but Keery has also emerged as a must-follow celebrity. We don’t have enough time to pore through all of his social media activity since Stranger Things premiered on Oct. 27, but this one photo should get the point across.
The glass of champagne, the random baseball hat, the slumped, eyes-closed look, THE DOG—this is quite possibly the best photo taken this year. Steve Harrington is the MVP of Stranger Things Season 2, and Joe Keery is the MVP of 2017.