On October 27, Netflix released the highly-anticipated second season of Stranger Things. Following an agonizing year of waiting, viewers returned to Hawkins, Indiana, to follow the continued adventures of the “Dungeons and Dragons” crew as they combat new dangers presented by the dreaded “Upside Down.” Along with the return of beloved characters, the sophomore installment of the hit Netflix series provides a slew of new characters, including new “bad boy” Billy Hargrove.
Billy and his younger step-sister Max arrive in Hawkins from California following their parents’ recent marriage. He first appears driving in a blue Camaro, dressed in distressed denim, and attracting the eyes of many female students. Throughout the season, Billy antagonizes the Dungeons and Dragons crew and competes with season one villain, Steve Harrington. He quickly becomes Hawkin’s new “Keg King” and smokes a cigarette in almost every scene as well.
Although visibly evil, Billy’s reckless and dangerous actions are somewhat justifiable. First, Billy’s abusive father has most likely caused Billy’s aggressive nature. In episode 7, while Billy prepares for a date, Max sneaks out of the house. When their parents return from a trip, they are furious at Billy for allowing Max to leave unattended. While their anger is understandable, Billy’s father lashes out, hitting Billy for his irresponsibility. The scene provides viewers with a new perspective on Billy’s character. Prior to the scene, he is depicted as an asshole, with little care for others’ well-being. Yet, following his father’s beating, the viewer is left with pity and a deeper understanding of the character. Billy, as a result of his father’s abuse, has likely accumulated large amounts of anger. Rather than direct his anger towards his dad, he directs it at those around him in the form of violence or harassment. While not a healthy way to release one’s emotions, Billy’s reckless behavior becomes justified while considering his relationship with his father.
Besides his abusive father, Billy cruel and violent actions are likely the result of a sense of loneliness. Throughout the show, Billy is primarily seen interacting with Max and Steve, who, by any means, are friendly with him. While he obtains a few cronies and flirts with a couple of girls, Billy is alone. Therefore, his actions, although distancing, can be seen as a call for help. Often, when toddlers feel ignored, the scream for attention. Likewise, Billy harasses and bullies people in order to gain their notice.
While Billy’s actions may not reflect mindful teachings, they are somewhat justified by his relationship with an abusive father and a perceived loneliness. As Mr. Gusteau from The Grand Budapest Hotel once said, “The ugliest and most dreadful person only needs to be loved, and they will open up like a flower.”
Graphic By: Bethany Belina