SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses the plot points of “Stranger Things” Season 4, currently streaming on Netflix.
With 16 main characters, at least a dozen new characters and five main locations — including a prison in Soviet-era Russia and a converted underground missile silo somewhere in the American West — it’s frankly surprising that the fourth season of “Stranger Things” ” take some time to explore quiet moments of personal growth. But anyone following Will Byers’ (Noah Schnapp) journey throughout the show has noticed that the boy who survived the Upside Down has been struggling to reconnect with his old friends from Dungeons and Dragons for reasons that don’t seem to have much to do with. do with being captured by a demogorgon from an alternate dimension.
Namely, Will appears to be gay and struggling to come out.
That impression only got stronger in Season 4. In the first episode, Will and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) have to give a presentation at their new California school about a hero they look up to; Will chooses Alan Turing, the gay mathematician who was prosecuted in the 1950s for his sexuality and forced to undergo chemical castration. Will also physically recoils from a girl who shows interest in him. And when Mike (Finn Wolfhard) visits Hawkins in Episode 2 during spring break, Will seems heartbroken that Mike has been so indifferent to him in favor of his girlfriend, Eleven.
Later in Episode 4, when Mike confides in Will that he wishes he had expressed his feelings for Eleven more clearly to her, Will offers insight that could easily apply to anyone who has the courage to come out to a best friend.
“Sometimes I find it scary to open up like that – to say how you really feel, especially to the people you care about the most,” says Will. “Because what if – what if they don’t like the truth?”
In an interview with Schnapp and Brown to Variety, however, Schnapp had a more ambiguous perspective on how the show’s writers, led by creators and executive producers Matt and Ross Duffer, approached Will’s sexuality.
“I feel like they never broach it or blatantly say what Will is like,” he says. “I think that’s the beauty of it, it just depends on the audience’s interpretation of whether Will refuses to grow up and grows up slower than his friends, or if he’s actually gay.”
At this point, Brown joined the conversation. “I can just say we’re in 2022 and we don’t need to label things,” she said. “I think what’s really cool about Will’s character is that he’s just a human being going through his own demons and personal issues. So many kids out there don’t know, and that’s okay. It’s okay not to know. And it’s okay not to label things.”
Schnapp agreed. “I think people even put a label on it and just want to know, really badly, like, ‘Oh, and that’s it,’” he said. “He’s just confused and growing. And that’s what it’s like to be a child.”
Other “Stranger Things” cast members seem to have a more definitive point of view on Will, however. In a promotional video from Netflix Mexico posted on May 23, Wolfhard and fellow cast members David Harbour, Winona Ryder and Caleb McLaughlin are asked about fan theories for the show, including one that Will and Eleven are in a secret relationship. in California, and hiding it from Mike.
“If you’re watching the show, you should know that Will isn’t interested in El,” Harbor said. “He’s interested in someone else in the group.” Harbor later added, “Will wants to be in the basement with Mike playing D&D for the rest of his life.”
Wolfhard also said that Will and Eleven’s relationship is “like brother and sister” and suggested that the public will “see soon” who Will is “interested in” – “very interested”, Harbor added. But that revelation, if it comes, does not occur in Vol. 1 of Season 4, which ends with Episode 7. (The final two episodes of Season 4 of “Stranger Things,” also known as Vol. 2, premiere July 1.)
For their part, Schnapp and Brown say they are happy that Will’s sexuality has remained elusive.
“It’s an amazing role for Noah to play,” says Brown. “And to be that role model for kids out there who don’t know what they’re going through growing up.”
“Will is like a zebra in a field of horses,” adds Schnapp. “He kind of stands out. It’s nice to see that and to have that shown in ‘Stranger Things’ for fans to connect and relate to. Because many of our viewers are young people who are at that stage of their lives.”