Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Stranger Things” season two.
Midway through “Stranger Things 2,” something magical happens. Dustin — desperate for help with his pollywog pet that turned out to be a baby Demogorgon — runs into Steve and talks him into tagging along for an adventure.
According to the cocreators Matt and Ross Duffer, this chance encounter wasn’t part of their season two story pitch.
“It wasn’t planned — it was something we discovered,” Matt Duffer said on episode two of Netflix’s new talk show series “Beyond Stranger Things.”
And yet it turned out to be the starting point for one of the best pairings on the two existing seasons of “Stranger Things.”
Steve and Dustin’s blossoming bromance plays out as literal brotherly love, with Steve unexpectedly taking on the role of older sibling and mentor to Dustin. He gives Dustin advice on his love life and even reveals his secret hair care routine: “Fabergé Organics. Use the shampoo and the conditioner and when it’s damp, not wet, use four puffs of the Farrah Fawcett spray.”
By the end of the season, Steve is the one who drives Dustin to the middle school dance, giving him a small pep talk before sending the youngster out into the harsh world of preteen love.
“When we first pitched the season there was no Dustin and Steve bromance,” Ross Duffer said. “We realized that Dustin needed help because none of his friends were around. And then we also realized that Steve was just left alone by Nancy.”
The Duffer Brothers decided they needed to pair the two characters up in order to give Steve something to do other than mope.
“We fell in love with this idea when we came up with it because we were like, ‘I think that will lend to some great moments of bonding,’ especially because these are two characters that are both a little heartbroken,” Ross said. “So we thought that they could help heal each other.”
The Duffer Brothers also explain that Steve and Dustin were both characters who were first written as more one-dimensional stereotypes. But when they cast Joe Keery (Steve) and Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), the characters changed to reflect the actors’ charm and personality. Their chemistry and friendship together in real life helps inform how Steve and Dustin evolved on screen.
“Early on it was very clear this was going to be comedy gold, but then by the end of the season it works emotionally,” executive producer Shawn Levy said. “And that’s a really hard thing to pull off — a pairing that is both funny and moving.”
You can watch the full interview on episode two of “Beyond Stranger Things,” which is streaming now on Netflix.