The Relatability of Will Byers


Thibault Penin

Netflix logo

Will Byers is one of the main characters (and one of the most loved ones) of the hit Netflix original show “Stranger Things.” This show has drastically increased in popularity with the long-awaited release of the fourth season, which came out on May 27, 2022. With the premiere of the new season, the fandom has come to love him even more.

While being one of the main characters would obviously make Will popular within the fandom, there is more to it than just that. A big reason why Will has become even more popular recently is because of how relatable he is to so many people; it’s an appealing factor.

The new season has officially confirmed his queer identity, which is huge. Will is a young, queer kid who’s faced hardship after hardship all of his life, and many viewers can relate to that aspect; don’t worry, nobody has been trapped in an alternate dimension yet.

Viewers did not see much of Will in season one because, for the majority of the season, he was missing in the Upside Down. In flashbacks from before the events of the first season, viewers see how deep-rooted his issues are. We see that he never had a great relationship with his father. His father attempts to push ‘normal’ interests onto Will, but, unfortunately, he just is not interested in things a normal boy from the 80s should be interested in.

There’s also the fact that people at school, and even his family, speculate something that really brings him apart from the others: him being queer. Due to it being the 80s, this speculation came with many nasty remarks. Will was called names from kids at school, he was bullied, and was mistreated by his own father. Ever since he was young, he was viewed as different and was treated terribly because of it.

In season two, he becomes even more isolated from everyone with his disappearance and sudden reappearance from the Upside Down. He had to deal with even more bullying from his peers at school. He suffered from all kinds of episodes because of the Upside Down and had to attend doctor appointments and therapy because of how severely they were affecting him.

Season three is where a lot of Will’s personal issues worsen. He finally starts getting over his trauma from the Upside Down, but he starts drifting from his main support system, his best friends.

In a desperate attempt to feel like a kid with his friends again, he asks to play Dungeons and Dragons with the group, but they have no interest in it whatsoever. The disappointment and anger he feels leads to an argument with his best friend, Mike. In the heat of the moment, Mike blurts out, “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls!” Will now sees that it is evident to everybody in his life that he is different, even his best friend.

In season four, something big is revealed: Will is gay, and he has feelings for his best friend, Mike. He moved to California and is more separated from his friends than ever. He loses contact with his friends within the group and loses the connection he had to his childhood. He is not a little kid anymore, and that has hit him hard these past two seasons.

When his best friend eventually does come to California, it is more for his girlfriend, Eleven, than for Will. Will is left third-wheeling the whole time, and he feels left out. His feelings are eventually revealed to Mike. He expresses how much Mike means to him. He’s afraid of losing him because Mike is one of the only people that really makes him feel okay about being different. However, he disguises this as something Mike’s girlfriend feels, not his own feelings because, if he were to express that that’s really how he feels, Mike would definitely distance himself completely from him. Will does not want to lose the person that means the most to him.

Will is slowly drifting from everything connected from his childhood and slowly losing hope of anything really changing. He can never really be his true self and has to conform to whatever is accepted by the society he lives in. He cannot confide in any of his close friends because they would not understand. He has to deal with all of this by himself. All of these things are issues many people can personally relate to.

Will represents all the people that have felt different their whole lives. He’s helped people to see that they are not alone in their circumstances, even if that’s all they feel. Seeing somebody like yourself on the big screen, and especially in such a huge show, is really empowering. This is why I believe he’s so popular now compared to past seasons.

More and more is revealed about him as the seasons go on, and all of us love him and relate to him more and more. He is a big comfort for many, amazing representation, well-written, and he 100% deserves all of the popularity and love he is getting.