Hey: Fuck Barb.
At this point, as per the strict rules of the internet, I have to now tell you that the below may contain "spoilers," ie information that if read by you could ruin the experience of the Netflix series Stranger Things, as if Barb—her existence and her fate—did not ruin it enough. But yes: The below copy may contain some information that you've literally had five weeks—five entire weeks, the entire series lasts less than eight hours, tell me how you haven't found the time so far—to catch up on, but somehow, despite still being precious about having it spoiled, you have not found the time to catch up on. But still.
So I just got done watching Stranger Things, and—yeah, no, it's a good show! I like how it's like a Stephen King novel without any involvement at all from Stephen King—and all the way through I was like, Well, huh: The internet says Barb is good, so there's definitely going to be a scene now where Barb actually does something good. Like, I am watching the finale with all the shooting and the upside-down traversing, and all the dunking into isolation tanks, and I'm like: Surely—surely now—Barb is going to pop up, and we will have Barb closure. Barb is going to do something good to justify all the Barb-liking online; Barb is going to roll in in her shitty-ass car and be like, "Hey guys, what up! I'm not a nerd anymore! I found a shop here in the other world that sells less shitty jumpers, and I've decided to stop being such a fucking buzzkill all the fucking time!" Like Barb effortlessly shotguns a beer, and everyone is like, "Oh damn, Barb is cool now!" and that is why the internet likes her. Like: turns out Barb got abducted by a monster, but somehow along the way made friends with Snoop Dogg, and Snoop Dogg turns up and is like, "What's happening in the upsizzle-dizzle?" and puffs a heavy one with Barb. But no. That didn't happen. And, to be honest, the unresolved anticipation of Barb turning out to be good did completely ruin the finale and thus the series for me.
Barb thinkpieces abound, though. This Salon article cites her "awesome power of friendship" (Barb's friendship consists of occasional lifts, being so lame at a party that her best friend almost doesn't get laid from it, kind of lowkey slut-shaming her, then dying! How is that awesome?) Vanity Fair attributes Barb-mania to the fact that "the bespectacled, freckle-flecked Barb looks more like someone you might actually meet in real life." (If I wanted to watch TV for people I would meet in real life, I have Jeremy Kyle and the nervous giggling of Come Dine with Me shitshows—I don't need an iconically boring freckle nerd.) Vulture deigns her a "fashion icon" ("Yo, mom! Grandma fell down the stairs again into all those bin bags full of clothes you put out to take to the thrift store! I think she's really hurt this time, she looks so bad!" "That's just Barb!")
I don't get it. Barb is not good. She is a character written specifically to be rubbish and then die. It is time we end this charade. It is time we admit that Barb is empirically lame. Here—in more detail—is why.
BARB IS SO UNCOOL THAT HER SOLE ATTEMPT TO BE COOL, IE SHOTGUNNING A BEER AT A PARTY, WENT SO BADLY THAT SHE SUMMONED A HELL MONSTER TO SNATCH HER ASS INTO ANOTHER, DARKER UNIVERSE
Hey: We've all fucked up drinking when we were teenagers, OK! I once got so drunk I vomited in a sink, and one of my friends had to clear it up because I was too drunk to! I once had to help another drunk friend piss, but I was so drunk I dropped him, clonking him head first and covered in piss into a urinal! But I never fucked up opening a beer so hard my hand started bleeding, then I sat and moped about it and bled into someone's swimming poll (which, by the way: extremely rude!), and then got snatched into an impossible alternate dimension that nobody else can access by a tulip-headed hell beast. Only Barb—who fucking sucks, by the way—can do this.
THE PERSON WHO KNOWS BARB BEST—HER MOTHER—WHEN CONFRONTED WITH THE INFORMATION THAT "SOMETHING BAD HAS HAPPENED TO BARB" IS LIKE, "EH: FUCK BARB"
"Hey, Mrs. Barb! Just me, Barb's only friend. Listen, bit of a weird one: Any chance Barb is at your house?"
"I thought Barb was with you?"
[Extremely trying to cover up the fact you just got laid voice] "Ha, yeah! Just thought she might have come home before, like, school?"
"You're right, Barb is a fucking nerd like that. But no."
"Oh, OK. Side note: I think something awful and terrible might have happened to Barb."
"Ha ha, really? Man: phew. Because seriously, kid. Fuck Barb. Did you know she reads books for fun? I don't need that around. I'm gonna hang up the phone now, focus on my own life. Whoo! That's a weight off. I'm not even going to call the police about this."
ASKING-TEACHER-FOR-EXTRA-HOMEWORK MOTHERFUCKER-ASS DEAD IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE FUCKING YOUR GRANDMA'S PRESCRIPTION GLASSES CONSTANTLY FOLDER-HOLDING FUCKING CRAPPIEST CAR ON PLANET EARTH-HAVING MOTHERFUCKING—
SHE LOOKS LIKE HER FAVORITE DRINK IS MILK.
THE POLICE, WHOSE CIVIC DUTY IT IS TO CARE WHEN BARB HAS POSSIBLY BEEN ABDUCTED AND MURDERED, WHEN CONFRONTED WITH THE INFORMATION THAT BARB MIGHT HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED AND MURDERED—IN A TOWN ALREADY FACING UP TO THE REALITY THAT ITS OTHERWISE CLEAN RUN OF NON-CRIME MIGHT HAVE BEEN ENDED BY A KID GETTING ABDUCTED AND MURDERED, AND THAT THIS POSSIBLE ABDUCTION/MURDER COULD BE RELATED—EVEN WITH ALL THAT, THE POLICE ARE LIKE, 'EH: FUCK BARB'
"What? Barb? Listen, I've already got one crime to be looking into, I don't need this—"
"But there are like three of you. Can't at least one person look into the fact that my friend is missing?"
"Well, I mean... we could. But here's the thing, kid: It's only fucking Barb, isn't it."
HERE IS AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF ALL THE SHIT BARB SAYS IN STRANGER THINGS SEASON ONE
1. "No, Nance. Don't do that. It might be fun."
2. "Yoooooo, nice bra! You gonna fuck Steve in it? Hope you're still my friend after you've been penetrated!"
3. "ARRRRRGHGHGHHGHG, ARGHHGHGHGHGHGHGHG, AGHHGHGHGHGHGHGHG, ARHHHGHGHGHGGH!"
SHE IS IN THE SHOW FOR LIKE TWO EPISODES, AND JUST BARELY AT THAT
I don't understand how someone with about four cumulative minutes of screen time—and those four minutes were spent being a bore, being uptight, bleeding, and then dying—how they can ascend to icon status in that time? Am I... what? What?
BARB DIDN'T EVEN FIGURE OUT HOW TO COMMUNICATE FROM THE UPSIDE-DOWN, BUT WILL—WHO IS A KID, REMEMBER, AND WAS TOTALLY PASSED OUT AND FUCKED UP IN AN ALT-UNIVERSE TENT—MANAGED TO TALK TO HIS MOM VIA FUCKING FAIRY LIGHTS, LIKE AT LEAST TRY, BARB, IF YOU WANT ME TO MOURN YOUR FICTIONAL DEATH AT LEAST TRY AND COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE WHO MIGHT SAVE YOU, BARB, JFC
Will fucked up two—two—telephones while trying to get back to reality. Barb just died. Because she sucks.
EVERYONE THINKS THAT BARB IS GOOD, WHICH SOMEHOW MAKES ME THINK I AM IN THE UPSIDE-DOWN, HERE; I AM IN THE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE WHERE EVERYTHING IS WRONG, BECAUSE HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY STAND THERE AND THINK BARB IS GOOD
I suppose Barb is meant to be a relatable character, somehow, as if everyone who really loved Stranger Things (mid 20s to early 30s people who barely remember the 80s but somehow feel really nostalgic about it) wears blousy woollen jumpers all the time and the most mom jeans available and has exactly one friend and is a constant, constant, no-we-should-go-home buzzkill about things, and is also a murder victim, and the murderer is a tulip-headed monster from some dark pond dimension just beyond our own, but I'm pretty sure they're not.
IN CONCLUSION: BARB SUCKS
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