Why Steve Harrington Has Been a Great Character from the Start
"I love you. I'm sorry. Why am I sorry?" He's always been amazing!
So in the past few months since the release of season two of Stranger Things, new light has been shed on supporting character Steve Harrington. He's gone from the douchey boyfriend with a great head of hair to the hilarious and protective babysitter, with a great head of hair sponsored by Farrah Fawcett Spray. Everyone is now in love with Steve and are apologizing for hating him in season one, which is great, but here's the thing; he wasn't the bad guy in season one.
It's easy to see why one would think that—he does at first come off as the arrogant popular guy who just wants to get laid, but he already was a complex character! He made mistakes, sure, but he always quickly redeemed himself, proving he was more than a cliche. So let's strap in and take a look at the wonder that is Steve.
So, the obvious reason why Steve was hated on was because he came off as the good looking jock scheming on the less popular brainy girl for sex. He invites her and her cautious friend to a party, on a school night, with his parents gone. Right then and there, Nancy calls him out for being a stereotype, to which he banters back that she is too. And yeah, he's right, they both kind of are cliches. From the outside. He's the popular slacker while she's the good girl starting to rebel. But one of the factors that makes Stranger Things so great is that they quickly delve beneath that.
Yeah, it was irresponsible to throw a party with teen drinking and such when your parents are gone, but if you don't think a vast majority of teenagers do that, you're living under a rock!
Such a Cliche...
But let's not forget how kind he was Barb at said party. She's Nancy's best friend, and she's skeptical of him, and he knows that. The stereotypical jock character would scoff her off as being bitchy or jealous, and if he did invite her to the party it would be for laughs. But Steve doesn't do that. He's nice to her and tries to win her approval, because he knows how important it is his girlfriend's best friend likes him. Granted, Barb suffers a terrible fate, but that was more Nancy than him.
Also, at this party is when him and Nancy finally have sex—and it is consensual, unlike the photos Jonathan was taking outside! (More on that later.) And the next day at school, he's still interested in her, proving he actually wants to be with her and wasn't just trying to sleep with her. But there were signs of that from the start. Remember when he sneaked into her bedroom window in the first episode? She was firm that he help her study for her test, and guess what? He actually does! Even with some kissing to Africa by Toto and joking around they undress, he still respected her boundaries.
Now, back to the Jonathan situation—taking pictures of a girl in her underwear without her consent is WRONG! Doesn't matter how you spin it, whether he thought she looked beautiful or whatever, it's wrong! Especially considering she's still a minor. Was Steve wrong to break Jonathan's camera? Yes, but put yourself in his position. If someone who has a reputation of being kinda "off" takes half naked pictures of your significant other without their knowledge, you'd be pissed, too. And he does eventually apologize by buying Jonathan a new camera.
And that's one of the main characteristics of Steve that is consistent throughout the series. He is quick to apologize after making a mistake. And no fake apology where they just say sorry hoping to make the other party feel better. He also changes his behavior. When he shrugs off Barb being missing, upsetting Nancy, he offers her a movie date to get her mind off it. And even bigger, the whole Nancy the Slut situation.
Now, I will agree with most of you on that; yes, it was too far. Yeah, he thought Nancy was cheating on him with Jonathan (and we can see where he's coming from), but publicly shaming her like that was uncalled for. He should have confronted her in person and hear her side. And it was also wrong of him to insult the Byers; he did have that punch from Jonathan coming to him.
However, he does see his wrong doings rather quickly, calls out Tommy and Carol for being actual douchey stereotypes, and helps clean off the marquee.
And let's not forget the epic Demogorgon fight scene. He went to Nancy insisting they try to fix things, only to discover she and Jonathan are hunting some demonic Venus Flytrap human hybrid. Any other person would've booked it and stayed gone, but after some (reasonable) freaking out, he comes back inside and helps! Just as Nancy runs out of bullets and Jonathan is hurt, he intervenes and gets it in the trap for them. Now that is just bad-ass.
So no, Steve isn't perfect, but no interesting character is supposed to be! Every character has to have flaws in order to be realistic, otherwise they're boring and cannot be identified with. He has a rocky start, but one of the key elements to any good story is to have the characters evolve over time. The party does, Nancy and Jonathan do, and so does Steve. And I personally am a firm believer that it's better to have a character who starts off a jerk but grows into a better person than one who stays a jerk.
So while I love seeing everyone finally coming around to him with season two, I shamelessly like to brag that I liked him from the start. And anyone who still has a problem with Steve Harrington can fight 5'3"-weighing-nothing me on it!