Stranger Things is all about friendship. But the first season focused heavily on the core group of four boys and how their world was shaken up by the arrival of a young girl known as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The second season also fit this description as Eleven was out of the picture, replaced by a new outsider called Max (Sadie Sink) who once again threw the boy’s status quo into chaos.
As the second season drew to an end, Stranger Things brought Max and Eleven together but immediately introduced a tired love triangle aspect that saw the pair at odds due to Eleven’s feelings for Mike (Finn Wolfhard.) It was a decision that angered some fans and felt inauthentic. But good news for season 3: the girls who bring Max and Eleven to life have let their real-life friendship shape where we find the two young girls at the beginning of season three.
During a visit to the Atlanta set, Nerdist sat down with Sink and Brown in the echoing neon-hued halls of the newest Stranger Things location, The Starcourt Mall. Though the pair were tight-lipped about narrative developments they were happy to talk about the relationships driving their onscreen relationship.
“Most of the show for the first two season kind of revolves around the boys and their friendship. So it’s interesting to see two girls’ friendship, especially since we’re friends in life.” Sink explained. Brown continued, “We’re two powerful girls in real life. And we’re also two powerful girls in the show. So it’s putting two powerful female forces together. And girls that are tomboys like Max, and who are confused like Eleven, can see them together. It’s a really interesting dynamic.”
As for the new status quo in 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana – it’s a mixed bag. “We’re both girlfriends, which sucks.” Brown joked. “But we’re also best friends.” Sink continued, “Max kind of takes Eleven under her wing and introduces her to the real world – shopping, having fun.” “It’s really cool!” Brown chimed in.
When it comes to that end of season beef that upset so many fans, Brown was quick to set the record straight. “Max didn’t make the beef. It was totally Eleven. She was being so rude, why would she do that?.” Sink interjected thoughtfully, “Well, Eleven hasn’t met many girls her own age before, so when she saw Max she immediately saw her as a threat.” For Brown, the juxtaposition between the two is what ends up making them so close. “Max is like, the true definition of a girl, you know, she has long hair, she knows what her style is. She knows who she is. And Eleven is like, “I want to be you.” It’s interesting.”
So how did they become friends? According to real-life best friends Sink and Brown, it’s a mixture of things. “You know, when you don’t really like someone and you’re in a friend group, and then you’re just in that friend group for so long that you’re like, all right, I’m gonna learn to like this person. That’s kind of what Max and Eleven did.” For Sink, it was also about Eleven coming to terms with all of the stuff that had happened to her: “I think Eleven had been through a lot and she just needed more confidence in who she was.”
When it comes to why “being a girlfriend sucks,” Brown had some thoughts. “There’s good and bad stuff. It’s just kind of the fundamentals of a relationship and you have to learn to have that. Also, Eleven doesn’t know how to have a relationship, whether it’s with her father, her papa, with a boy, with herself – she doesn’t really know how to have a good relationship with herself, let alone a boy so it’s very new for her. It’s her first for everything this summer, which is really cool.”
Stranger Things hits Netflix on July 4th