Do you still think women are swooning over billionaire playboys who want to dominate us and maybe we hope we can tame? Nah. Who has time and emotional energy to sink into that ridiculousness? Moms today know what we like. We like Hopper.
If you’ve been watching the Stranger Things phenomenon unfold, you may be familiar with the surly, middle-aged officer Jim Hopper. He personifies “dad bod” and has vices you imagine he’d probably be done with if the show wasn’t set in the 1980s. He’s not wealthy and it would be a hard stretch to call him “charming.” Other than the obvious “man in uniform” cliche, what makes this guy the kind of man women would fall for in spite of all logic?
He makes you feel safe. Officer Hopper is the guy you can call when things are going terribly. Like “your kid has been sucked into an alternate dimension” terribly. He’s going to do the right thing, even if it means risking his life. He’s brave and coolheaded even in the most bizarre circumstances. When you’re at your most crazy, he will listen. He wants you to know it’s going to be okay, although all signs point to mass governmental conspiracies. Even his everyman look is the kind of thing that makes you feel unintimidated and accepted in his presence.
He’s got a soft spot for kids. In season 1 we learn his daughter died of cancer and through the rest of the series we can see how that’s impacted his drive to protect children. If you didn’t love him after season 1, watching him take on the care of Eleven through season 2 will make you swoon. His answering machine apology to her after a typical parent/teen conflict (if your typical conflict involves shattered windows via your child’s telekinetic powers) is precious. He’s protective of the kids he loves. They bring out the soft side of this otherwise gruff guy.
He works hard. Hopper takes his job and commitment to the people of Hawkins seriously (well, at least once he figured out there were monsters running around). He goes above and beyond to investigate what’s going on in his town and works tirelessly to protect it. While other people talk about moving on from Hawkins when things get hard, Hopper knows this is HIS town and these are his people.
He’s patient and loyal. Hopper’s consistent pursuit of Eleven in spite of her fears and the difficulty of trying to have normal interactions with her is one of the most beautiful parts of the series. He doesn’t scare her off, but calmly and patiently allows her to come to him as she’s comfortable. He cares for her even as it upsets the balance of the rest of his life. Even when she’s frighteningly angry with him and injures him, he continues to be loyal to her and wants to care for her. He claims her as family and doesn’t neglect that responsibility when things get hard.
He’s humble. Okay, so maybe he’s humble to the point of throwing extensive pity parties at times (which is not super attractive), but there is something adorable and admirable about his ability to admit when he’s wrong. He knows he isn’t the best parent, the best officer, the best man, but he doesn’t give up. His humility allows him to learn and listen.
He gives without expecting something. So often you see Hopper offering his help, even when it inconveniences him without ever expecting it to be repaid. He helps kids who can’t do anything for him and who are even angry with him for not doing what they want him to do. He helps a single mom without ever making things weird between them. He helps Eleven when it’s clear she isn’t capable of having a traditional parent/child relationship with him. He is willing to take tremendous risks for people in crisis.
The truth is, when women see Hopper, we see the men we admire in our own lives. And those aren’t the dark, brooding, billionaires who want to exploit us. We see the patience of our dads, our hardworking brothers, our husbands who may seem tough to the rest of the world, but we get to see their tender side with our kids. While Hopper isn’t a perfect man, he embodies so many of the traits we love about the real life men who are faithful, loyal, protective and kind. Our men may not have had to fight actual monsters on our behalf, but they have often done battle with our internal fears, our health struggles, our financial issues, our finicky minivan motor and that neighbor lady who kept being so rude to our kids.
Any man can be a Hopper. When we feel like we’ve stepped into the UpsideDown, we just need a calm presence who believes us when we need to be our insane selves. We need that man who sees the beauty of our children and will pursue them even when things are tough. We need a man who can take his own past pain and trauma and turn it into a passion for helping others. We need to know he can offer help without keeping a running tally of what everybody owes him. Hopefully future seasons will give us more reasons to admire Hopper, the everyman we already know and love.