Warning: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things.
Stranger Things season 2 threw us a lot of curveballs, but one of them was how nice Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) could be. Praise for Steve’s character development blew up seemingly overnight as fans binged and decided that his accomplishments in the area of being a human being were as beautiful to behold as his illustrious hair.
Perhaps Steve summed up his role best: “I may be a pretty sh-tty boyfriend, but turns out I’m actually a pretty damn good babysitter,” he says to Nancy in the finale. But let’s go back to the beginning of season 2 before diving in. When we first meet Steve again in season 2, we get out of touch boyfriend Steve. He’s less concerned about Nancy’s grief over Barb than he is about whether or not she loves him. Not a great look.
But when it came to how competent he was with the kids, by season’s end, he had won many fans over. How’d we get here?
It all started when he showed up at the Wheelers house to try to win Nancy back. She wasn’t there. His soon-to-be buddy was though. Once Dustin took Steve under his wing, from that moment on, every move Steve made was responsibility central. He had several shining moments including but not limited to the following:
1. Schooling Dustin on the art of seduction while walking along the railroad tracks.
2. Coughing up the secrets to his perfect hair in episode five.
3. Proving his mettle when the Demodogs came growling to the junkyard where he was ready to fight them back with his bat in episode six.
4. Taking his babysitter role seriously, trying (unsuccessfully) to halt Operation Demodog Distraction during the finale.
5. He may have wanted to stay on the bench, but nevertheless, he persisted by insisting on leading the kids through the treacherous tunnel.
6. Giving Dustin a pre-Snow Ball pep talk in the finale’s coda.
Sure, he showed us glimmers of hope back in season 1 when he helped Jonathan and Nancy in the finale, but 1983 crisis Steve is a joke compared to 1984 Steve’s leadership skill levels.
As for how he handled it when Nancy chose Jonathan instead of him, he accepted it. That’s no real prize-winning feat. But if you knew the old King Steve — who was involved in Nancy’s public shaming after she spent a platonic night with Jonathan — then if nothing else, it was surprising he bowed out.
Did the way he gazed longingly at Nancy at the Snow Ball make you forget all about the way he dramatically broke Jonathan’s very expensive camera equipment? Some fans did. What a turnaround for this kid.
See some of the funniest reactions to Steve’s new and improved season 2 side below.
The dramatic difference between ’83 Steve and ’84 Steve was a major talking point.
He was so great at babysitting that one redditor shared, “Steve’s basically a franchise now.”
One Steve fan used Gigi Hadid’s buzzy sneaker commercial to compare Nancy’s love interests.
Another shared his shiny new resume.
Another felt a Meryl Streep shoutout and caps lock was necessary.
Another praised his mom moves.