Stranger Things 2: Proof that Female Leads Can Kick Ass

Stranger Things is the #1 show in the USA for the month of November (2017) and is the most streamed show on Netflix. For Season 1 info, click on the link here.

Did you know that only 12% of movie casts are balanced when it comes to male to female character ratios? There are usually 2.3:1 men per scene than women, even though life, and the US Census of 2010 confirms, that 52% of the population identified as female. You didn’t notice before, did you? Humor me a second and take another look at the header picture of this article and count the women to men ratio: It is 2:1, 8 guys to 4 women. 🤔🤔

Don’t feel disappointed in the results because this particular poster doesn’t tell the whole story. 🤓 On the surface, it seems to be tailored to meet the magic ratio for the industry but it is not representative of the entire cast which includes the moms, love interests, crowds, and new character additions. Once you add those in, the ratio balances out to 1:1. Sneaky! 🕵️‍♀️ Plus Joyce, Nancy and Eleven are not wallflowers in this narrative and newcomer Mad Max, the redhead in the poster, is just as strong, brave and smart as these three. They are not to be messed with, that’s for sure.

Also, the poster features Eleven as the focus and biggest drawn likeness. This positions her as the lead or most important/popular character depicting her value to the story when compared to her co-leads. For Season 2, her origin story is the driving force of the series reinforcing her place as one of the main characters. Her episodes have a similar feel to the videogame Beyond:Two Souls but more tragic and twisted. This is a sci-fi adventure after all, and what is the genre if not a gateway for strong and brave female characters to emerge and reign supreme?

Rounding up the women who kick ass are Joyce (Winona Ryder), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), and Mad Max. Each one represents a different dimension of leadership: Joyce is resilient, Nancy rights wrongs, and Maxine challenges the status quo. This last role is an especially important addition because it shows how the 80s was a crucial time for girl empowerment. She rules the arcade, collecting high score records, and can skateboard and punch like the best of the boys, traits that make her a desirable and worthy adversary and/or partner. Each additional woman in the frame brings their own perception and ethos to the story helping their male counterparts realize that they need to step up their game, and trust the women in their lives, in order to survive.

At some point, I expect a female lead in the science or engineering arena to join in on the fun. That was the only place where women were still left out in the series foreground. Other than that, watching the balanced crew explore the bridge between worlds full of Silent Hill like creatures is entertaining and nostalgic enough to keep rooting for more Stranger Things. The Sean Austin and Paul Riser roles alone are worthy of viewing. An 80s palooza indeed.

Stranger Things is available now on Netflix.


At WE 17, the Society of Female Engineers conference, Kim Bishop of Keysight Technologies shared with us the results of the Geena Davis Institute’s research on gender roles in film and TV. In 2016, less than 12% of films had balanced casts and less than 34% has female lead roles. See below for more stats and check out the institute’s website: www.seejane.org

SmartSelectImage_2017-11-16-08-53-39SmartSelectImage_2017-11-16-08-53-59

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