The world undoubtedly gets a bit weird when your real life partner also plays your partner on a wildly popular Netflix series. Stranger Things stars Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton definitely know a thing or two about dodging paparazzi and avoiding Stranger Things spoilers, but when it comes to viewers who take issue with the outcome of a certain Hawkins, Indiana love triangle, things get a bit trickier.
You see, the couple play two thirds of that Nancy-Jonathan-Steve triangle and after the end of season 2, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) stans weren't too thrilled with the final scene of season 2, in which Nancy and Jonathan share a flirtatious (relationship-confirming) glance while Steve stares wistfully at Nancy through a window. The numerous laments on Reddit, hopeful theories, and dramatic YouTube compilations set to romantic music leave real life couple Dyer and Heaton to defend their own on-screen relationship — something Dyer is more than ready to do.
"Steve and Jonathan and Nancy have all grown in different ways throughout this whole experience," she tells Refinery29 at the Stranger Things 3 press junket, before noting that Steve and Nancy shippers are also missing something crucial: "We also don't get to see everything, is the other thing. We've had discussions about [what happened] between seasons and it's not like you necessarily get to see that."
She's got a point. What we missed between seasons 1 and 2 could have been all the little cracks in Steve and Nancy's relationship (you know, besides the big, obvious ones), and while Steve is a reformed jerk in season 2, who knows how much he screwed up on that rocky road to redemption offscreen. And now, by the time summer of '85 rolls around in Stranger Things 3, months will have passed and Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve will be even further from the trio of high school kids we've known for the past two seasons. Still, Dyer and Heaton get why fans are hoping Steve gets a win.
"[Steve's] turned into a nice guy," says Dyer. Heaton replies that he's actually pretty pro-Steve Harrington himself, prompting a miniature debate on the Nancy-Steve-Jonathan question. (For context, Heaton did say, after season 2, that he thinks he might actually be Team Steve.) "Can you see Steve and Nancy together for real?" Dyer says, directing the question, and a slightly incredulous tone, at Heaton. He concedes, with an almost disappointed tone, that "At this point, I don't."
Perhaps that's because, at the start of the new season, Nancy and Jonathan have bigger fish to fry than figuring out if Steve is a threat to their romantic relationship. The duo are working at the Hawkins newspaper and attempting to figure out what a normal, adult life looks like.
"[They're] kind of living a practical life that trying to get back to normality and picture everything. He's starting to think about the future," says Heaton, adding that, "At the beginning we see they're really happy together and they're enjoying being together." While their new gig comes with a few stressors, for the most part, Nancy Wheeler and Jonathan Byers actually start the season as completely average, everyday people. Well, as average as they can possibly be after what they've been through — "I could see Nancy becoming Murray Bauman more than I could see her becoming Karen Wheeler at this point," jokes Dyer.
[Nancy and Jonathan] are very different people. But when it matters they are there for each other.
Heaton points out that Jonathan, who was raised in financially tougher circumstances than Nancy's cushier middle class upbringing, is most worried about taking his work seriously. "He's got nothing to fall back on," he notes. That could create a bit of conflict when things get tough at their shared workplace. "They're together, but they're a bit wrapped up in their own individual worlds," says Dyer. Still, Heaton seems confident that Nancy and Jonathan's bond is the real deal — no matter what individual worlds they get temporarily caught up in and no matter how hard Steve-Nancy shippers want that to change.
"They can and do rely on each other," he says. "They're very different people. But when it matters they are there for each other."