Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery.
One of the characters of Netflix's critically acclaimed series Stranger Things that hasn't garnered a great deal of buzz lately is Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard). Between Season 4's high-stakes plot threatening the very existence of small town Hawkins, Indiana, and Eleven's (Millie Bobby Brown) struggle to reclaim her supernatural abilities, Mike's cross-country split from The Party left a handful of the characters simmering on the back burner. While not the main focus, the Duffer Brothers have been juggling an impressive number of Mains for almost five seasons, which means some storytelling has to be delivered through the finer details of production. Enter the incredible talent of head hair (not to be confused with head-hair) designer for the entirety of the Stranger Things, Sarah Hindsgaul, and her ability to add to Mike's story through her craft.
Mike's first Season 4 onscreen appearance is a bit of a deviation from his previous looks. While he sported a denim vest and a bowl cut one season prior, now the youngest Wheeler is rocking a shag-cut, with his iconic blunt bangs. Hawkins High, and the expansion to California, allowed fans to see the many flavors of '80s styles, and get a taste of who The Party was becoming. Due to circumstances, Mike is branching off and adopting an edgier flair than his clean-cut best friend Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), or even Dustin Henderson's (Gaten Matarazzo) boyish mismatch. It's only when we are introduced to Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) and his metalhead appearance that fans made the connection.
In a post on Twitter, one Stranger Things fan brought attention to something Hindsgaul said on her Instagram. In a caption for a photo of Wolfhard getting his hair done, the stylist said:
"Trying to look cool as Eddie but his just not there yet. He still is one of our favorite nerds so it's important that he looks like an awkard teenager. We used Finn's natural texture for the party in the back but kept it classic Mike Wheeler in the front."
Previously, The Party's designated Dungeon Master position belonged to Mike Wheeler, the kid brother of intelligent and popular Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer). With the show's main focus zeroed in on a group of gangly-limbed boys with a passion for dungeon-crawling, Wolfhard played Mike as the group's ringleader and the voice of authority, and even when his voice squeaked, Mike had a sharp wit and that irritating younger-brother banter. His relationship with the mysterious and powerful El, as well as Will's respect for him, gave fans an impression of cool.
In Season 4, The Party enters high school, and following the Battle of Starcourt, so much about their dynamic has changed. Will and El move halfway across the country, Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) is suffering the trauma of losing Billy (Dacre Montgomery), and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) is quickly becoming a basketball all-star. This leaves Mike and Dustin treading the unfamiliar social waters of a bigger school missing over half of their friend group, but Dustin at least still has Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). Mike finds himself no longer certain of his place in the world or where he stands with El. That's why the introduction of the Hellfire Club's official Dungeon Master, Eddie, was so important to Mike's storyline, but without pages of script to explain his newfound admiration of this senior, Hindsgaul needed to show it without the use of words.
Hindsgaul is the mastermind behind the iconic hairstyles that have evolved since Season 1 of Stranger Things. In a show, chock-full of period characters with looks heavily influenced by the pop culture of the decade, this department head had her hands full (of hair). After a stroke of bad luck with a big HBO production, Hindsgaul's friend and client Winona Ryder, who plays Joyce Byers in the show, invited the stylist to come try her hand at a new period piece. It was just an idea being pitched at the time, and in an interview with Isa Adney on her blog Creative Teacup, Hindsgaul said, "When I first get a script, I go through every single character, looking for their arc. Where are they going? What are they going to go through? Who are they as people? What's their emotional process?" The dedication to her work has given fans countless iconic looks from Eddie's luscious mane to precious Will Byers' bowl cut that, to this day, remains one of the true constants in the show.
You can admire the entire cast's '80s-inspired hair on Stranger Things, available to stream on Netflix, and check out Hindsgaul's Instagram post.