Is Billy from ‘Stranger Things’ really a villain? | The Tylt
Is Billy from ‘Stranger Things’ really a villain?
When it comes to stereotypical eighties bullies, Billy hits every mark: Within five minutes on the show, he knocks the looks out of all the girls in Hawkins; he’s a jerk to his little stepsister, Max; and he calls some poor kid “lard ass.” Not to mention he’s nasty to Steve “The Hair” Harrington—whose redemption arc hit an ultimate high during the second season—and has a habit of picking on Lucas, a kid half his size.
On a sleazier note, he flirts with Mrs. Wheeler, the mother of Nancy and Mike. He even takes their mild banter to the next level when he invites her for a “private swim lesson” in season three (keep in mind, she's an older woman while he's still in high school). Unfortunately, Billy would’ve been stood up had he not been captured by the Mind Flayer first. The acts he commits afterwards are either his true personality times a thousand, or justice for his past transgressions.
Bullies are bullies for a reason. It’s not like Billy's bad attitude is founded just on being prettier and stronger than anyone else: It stems from his loving mother leaving him alone with an abusive father. The boy is hurting on the inside. Like he says in the third season: He’s done bad things, but he doesn’t really mean them. In fact, he works a lot harder at making sure people are safe. Instead of hurting Mrs. Wheeler at the behest of the Mind Flayer, for example, he warns her to stay away.
There’s also the argument he truly feels for Max. His treatment of her in the second season could be viewed as a sort of overprotectiveness on steroids; people did him wrong, so why wouldn’t he want to keep his sister from getting let down, too? Their unspoken affection only truly comes after Billy sacrifices himself to save Eleven from harm. Hawkins’s real hero, indeed.