Okay, so on my list of favorite ST characters, Hopper isn't really in the top tier. I mean, I like him. I like everyone everyone in the show, including the ones I like to dislike. But in a pinch, if forced to choose a favorite, I'd most likely go with Dustin. Or Steve. Or Mike. Or El... okay, I'm not good at this forced to pick a favorite thing, but Hopper would be pretty far down in a free association list. I like the nerds first, and those discovering their inner nerd-dom.
I have to address this "OMG, Hopper is so toxic!!!!" thing that's going around, based on his gruff handling of Mike and Eleven, his jealousy and temper issues regarding Joyce, and... well, pretty much those two.
First, yes--his temper can be a problem, but the show plays it as such in his personal relationships. Some people have tempers that are problems. And when he turns it on the bad guys... honestly, they mostly deserve it.
Second: Is he being too controlling with Mike and Eleven? Maybe. But like every other character on the screen not named Mike or Eleven (or maybe Max), by episode 1, he's hit his Mileven limit. Will is hurt, Dustin is infuriated, and even Lucas, who has a girlfriend of his own, has gotten to the point of finding them seriously annoying. Because they are, God bless them, seriously annoying. The annoying-ness mostly takes place in Hopper's vicinity, so he's at the end of his rope with them. One of the things about learning to date is learning to balance it with everything else, and Mike and Eleven are terrible at this part (like most fourteen-year-olds). He snaps. Is it a perfect response? No. But it's totally understandable.
Maybe the bigger problem is El's lack of outside horizons. She's clearly got more freedom than she did last season, but she's also obviously not going to school, and has rules about going out where there are too many people. Which, to be fair, was the instruction that Owens gave from the lab--that he'd advise having her keep her head down for at least a year (and, despite the real world time lapse, it's only been a little over six months in-story--the Snow Ball was in December '84 and ST3 takes place at the beginning of July '85). She isn't in a normal situation.
There's also a strong theme this season of performing gender roles, and Hop is doing that with the "gruff dad" trope.
And then there's the scene where he puts the fear of God into Mike. Yes, it's over-the-top. But you know... it wasn't actually about control. That was about the fact that Mike and El (but primarily Mike) had disrespected him to his face, and yeah, that needed addressing, and Mike had shown no signs of being willing to listen to anything short of having the shit scared out of him. I mean, I love Mike for any number of reasons, but talking to an adult the way he did? That would have been a wash-the-mouth-out-with-soap thing.
There's also the side-point that he's right, though for the wrong reasons (hence me not leading with this). Mike and Eleven are spending too much time together and utterly focused on each other. As Max points out, there's more to life than this. When El's able to spend more time with Max and working on the mystery (and buying new clothes... with money that, in good 80s movies tradition, materializes out of nowhere), she's able to grow exponentially, and to get to know herself. And when Mike started focusing on the bigger picture--mostly when Will rode away in the rain and he had a moment of realizing what a shit he'd been--he also grew, and, contrary to teenage obsession-think, became a better boyfriend as well. Because balanced humans are better humans, and better humans are better boyfriends/girlfriends.
That said, I wish they'd taken a little time to let him be some other way with her. Just for the sake of emotional impact further down the season.
Third: Jealousy. Hop is jealous when he finds out Joyce missed their dinner date to go work on the magnet thing with Scott Clark.
Sigh. Yes, jealousy in a long-standing relationship, or really an established relationship, can be toxic, and wild jealousy is a huge red flag. But like every human emotion, jealousy has a job to do. Its job is telling the person what he really wants. So yes, in a non-established relationship, jealousy is often the first sign of, "Hey, wait a minute. This could actually be a real feeling that I'm having..."
I just recently got around to watching Inside Out (not bad, but I felt like I was watching a Psych 101 lecture made by a super gifted animator), and the whole point--accepted by pretty much everyone--is that even the emotions that feel bad have a place and are legitimate. Except, apparently, for those emotions currently frowned upon. Accept tears! Cry! Don't bottle up your anger! Fear is totally reasonable sometimes! But jealousy, no that's outside the realm of the acceptable. Suppress it! Banish it! Sorry. Part of normal human emotional make-up. You just have to learn to address it in a healthier way.
Fourth: The endless fury.
Every season, the characters are all in different genres. Joyce and Hopper spend most of this season somewhere between a romantic comedy and a buddy cop show... and much closer to the latter, with the constant bickering and disagreeing on methods that are common to the genre. This is complicated by the fact that most of the season takes place the day after she utterly forgets about him and leaves him drinking alone in a fancy and expensive restaurant, and honestly, he has a right to be angry, and Joyce not even apologizing for missing dinner puts her in the wrong as well. I don't care whether or not it's a date; it's a really shitty feeling to be forgotten about, sitting there waiting for something you've been looking forward to--something that has been agreed to and set up--and realize that it's not happening. Hop does not deal well with his emotions (this is well-established as a character trait), and it turns into a kind of day-long temper tantrum. Would it have chilled out the next day? Probably--by the end of this day, they've set up another date, and he's offered her a job, and they've mostly started rolling their eyes at themselves. I think that the format of the show shoots itself in the foot here--when most of the season takes place over a single day, it leaves a sense of that day as the only thing that exists. So what feels like endless fury is really... one tense day after being hurt, during which things boil over. It's unfortunate that this is all he gets for the year. But I'd need a lot more of an overview to make a general judgment.
Eh. I have to go get ready for work, but I'd had these thoughts in my head. So of course, I had to write them down.