"Stranger Things" Sort of Addressed Will's Sexuality in Season 4, Vol. 2

“Stranger Things” Sort of Addressed Will’s Sexuality in Season 4, Vol. 2

STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

When the first volume of “Stranger Things” season four hit Netflix on May 28, fans had some major questions about what was going on with Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). When Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) heads west to visit Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will, it seems to some like the latter is harboring a major crush on his longtime friend. Will’s sexuality is something the show has mentioned but never directly addressed for years. Back in season one, Joyce (Winona Ryder) tells Hopper (David Harbour) that Will’s dad used to call him “queer.”

But some fans were upset that the show seemed content to keep Will’s sexuality ambiguous, instead of letting the character come out fully. After the first batch of season four episodes aired, the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, spoke about the potential plot line and promised it would be addressed in the final two episodes.

“You’re supposed to be asking those questions,” Matt Duffer told TVLine on June 2 about fan speculation.

But the brothers didn’t want to confirm if Will is gay or not. “This is where it gets tricky since we haven’t released the whole season yet,” Matt said to the outlet. “I just want people to watch the final two episodes,” but according to TVLine, he promised clarity would come in them.

“We have story arcs and we have character arcs,” Ross Duffer told TVLine. “How we structured [the season], we’ve released the first two acts of this story. The final act, which is the last two episodes, resolves a lot of things, both character and story, and then some of it is also setting up for our final season.”

Those final two episodes, which were released on Netflix on July 1, did address the plot line, though not in an explicit way. In episode eight, Will and Mike are in the backseat of the pizza van, discussing Eleven on their way to try to rescue her. Mike says, “But what if after all this is over, she doesn’t need me anymore?” Will comforts Mike and launches into a monologue about Eleven.

“These past few months, she’s been so lost without you. It’s just, she’s so different from other people, and when you’re different, sometimes, you feel like a mistake,” he says.

“But you make her feel like she’s not a mistake at all. Like she’s better for being different and that gives her the courage to fight on,” he continues. “If she was mean to you or she seemed like she was pushing you away, it’s probably because she’s scared of losing you, like you’re scared of losing her.”

Will says, growing visibly emotional, “And if she was going to lose you, I think she’d rather just get it quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid. . . . El needs you Mike and she always will.”

Once Mike is comforted, Will looks out the window and cries, and it seems clear that he’s talking not just about Eleven, but about his own feelings for Mike. The only person who notices that Will is upset, though, is his brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton).

In episode nine, Jonathan apologizes to Will for not being there for him over the past year. He sort of addresses the situation in the car, saying, “I’ll always be here no matter what because you’re my brother and I love you. And there is nothing in this world, okay, absolutely nothing, that will ever change that.” Will tears up at that, too.

If Will is, in fact, gay, or has a crush on Mike, the show never comes out and explicitly says it in season four. It’s different from the way the series handled Robin (Maya Hawke) in season three, when she directly came out to Steve (Joe Keery) as a lesbian.

For his part, Schnapp had his own answer when asked about the subject. He told Variety in May of the Duffer brothers’ scripts, “I feel like they never really address it or blatantly say how Will is.”

He continued, “I think that’s the beauty of it, that it’s just up to the audience’s interpretation. If it’s Will kind of just refusing to grow up and growing up slower than his friends, or if he is really gay.”

Brown added, “Can I just say, it’s 2022 and we don’t have to label things. I think what’s really nice about Will’s character is that he’s just a human being going through his own personal demons and issues. So many kids out there don’t know, and that’s OK. That’s OK to not know. And that’s OK not to label things.”

Schnapp said, “I find that people do reach to put a label on him and just want to know, so badly, like, ‘Oh, and this is it.’ He’s just confused and growing up. And that’s what it is to be a kid.”