Barb Got Boned

“Stranger Things” sure boned Barb.

Image: Netflix; Kelly

This post contains “Stranger Things” spoilers, but mostly just about Barb.

“Stranger Things” is a show everyone likes because it reminds white guys in their thirties of a time when movies were made exclusively for them, and then for the rest of us it’s just good. Haha. White guys in their thirties are on Twitter like, “Rarely do we get a piece of art as joyous as ‘Stranger Things’!” Yeah, man, we know you like “Stranger Things.” “‘Stranger Things’ is nostalgia done impeccably well — for me!” Heh.

But anyway, this is a post about Barb.

“Stranger Things” follows a small town’s search for Will Byers, a young boy abducted by an interdimensional monster. There’s an enormous search party, the TV news talks about him, families discuss his disappearance at dinner and warn their children to come home on time, and there’s a funeral eventually. Yes, when it comes to Will Byers, it seems as though a child has gone missing and people have noticed. And then also Barb is missing.

Barb — main character Nancy’s kind, dorky, and protective-in-a-way-that-seems-a-little-self-serving friend — is abducted by the same interdimensional monster in episode two. There’s no Barb search party, no Barb update on the TV news, no Barb funeral because there’s no fake Barb corpse in the river, nobody’s mom saying, “Be careful. Will Byers is missing and now also Barb is.” Barb’s just gone now. 🙁 Bye, Barb.

In the final episode, we find out Barb is dead. Hahaha. Ahhh. I’m sorry. It is very funny to me, about Barb. Eleven (child telepath and government experiment escapee) finds her corpse in the other dimension while she’s in her salt bath, and she says “gone…gone,” and Nancy is like, “oh no!” No one tries to find her body, or even make sure Eleven meant “dead” when she said “gone,” or tell Barb’s parents, or take a second to remember something they liked about Barb (her glasses?). Barb is dead now, Nancy gets teary, and then we move on. 🙁 Bye, Barb.

This level of contempt for a nice character has not been seen on television since Lane got pregnant with twins after having terrible sex one time on “Gilmore Girls” — and that is a fact.

The question “why did you bone Barb so bad?” was brought up, in so many words, in a HitFix interview with “Stranger Things” creators Ross and Matt Duffer recently, and here’s what they lied, I mean said:

Ross Duffer: “What about Barb?” became a constant refrain. We said that almost every episode as we were writing season 1. I think what it boils down to is we’re not following Barb’s parents, or her family. So what it boils down to is Nancy cares so much about Barb. It’s not that other people don’t, but that everyone else is connected to Will in an extremely personal way. It’s not that Barb’s forgotten, but that the characters we’re following are focused on finding Will.

Matt Duffer: I’m surprised and also not surprised at the outpouring of love for Barb, because that was something everyone felt on set. The fact that people aren’t really following up on her disappearance to the same degree they are with Will makes her that much more of a tragic character.

Hmm. It seems to me that what it “boils down to” is: Barb got boned.

It is true, though, that there has been an outpouring of love for Barb. Articles supporting Barb, like “In Praise of Barb, the Best Character on ‘Stranger Things’” and “All Hail Our New Queen Barb, We Are Not Worthy” and “Everyone Needs a Friend Like Barb”, have made up a decent chunk of the “Stranger Things” news cycle, which seems sightly odd to me since these are, essentially, the only things we know about Barb:

  • Glasses
  • Friend of Nancy
  • Is sad about and suspicious of Nancy’s social ascent
  • Hair
  • Clothes

But the support isn’t surprising. “Stranger Things” is mostly great, and the boning of poor, old Barb — who lived and died largely to advance Nancy’s romantic love triangle plot line — is easier to swallow if you believe Barb’s small presence, or, at least, the tragedy of her small presence, is enough to love Barb.

But is it?

I don’t think so. Barb didn’t matter too much. And now she’s dead.

She got boned.

R.I.P. Barb.