I'm struggling to grasp the widespread obsession with Barb. Remember Barb? She was Nancy's book-toting, judgy sidekick — the careful, studious, somewhat mediocre Stranger Things Season 1 fixture who somehow weaseled her way into Season 2. Did we really need to continue her story post-Demogorgon attack? Would the show have been worse without it? I'm not so sure.
Looking back on the worst deaths in TV history, several come to mind. There's Lexa from The 100, Fringe's Etta, Dee from Battlestar Galactica, Elena from The Vampire Diaries, Glenn from The Walking Dead, and maybe Jen from Dawson's Creek. These characters all shared prominent, lasting presences on their respective shows. With the exception of Lexa, however, none of their deaths have created the sort of drama that Barb's has, and this may qualify as the greatest mystery of the 21st century.
If you, like me, have yet to come across a compelling argument for why Barb's death was so much more traumatic than the great characters listed above, perhaps you feel my frustration. The best I've found is that actress Shannon Purser is bae — a point I must concede — and yet, actors are not their characters.
Bafflingly undying campaign #JusticeForBarb has been everywhere over the last year, and now fans have paid for it as Nancy's grieving process has spilled out from the first season into the second. Not even Stranger Things creators Levy and Ross Duffer were immune to the movement, despite their claim that harping on god damn Barb was always part of the plan.
"I can tell you we were definitely aware of fan desires and theories," Levy told The Hollywood Reporter recently, "but Nancy looking to do right by Barb's death was always baked into season two. It was always going to be a primary engine for Nancy in season two."
"It's something we wanted to do, even before the big Barb groundswell," Ross seconded. "We started writing this season before season one was released. But the storyline ended up taking longer than we expected, and it did evolve as we went forward."
I, however, don't need to see Barb's grief-ridden parents presented with a pretty lie a full year after their daughter's disappearance. I don't see how this is more fair to them than simply having told them the truth to begin with way back in Season 1, squashing the pain of continued hope before they put their house on the market trying to find her.
As the Duffer brothers put it, Barb continues to be a driving force for Nancy in Season 2 — so much so that Nancy's sole mission is to avenge her friend any way she can. This is a mission I would understand if Barb had made any sort of impression on me. Sadly, she did not.
Nancy could have spent Season 2 pursuing a brand new journey, forging a path for herself and making a major contribution to monster domination. Instead, she got #JusticeForBarb. True, she managed to shut down the lab in the process, but the importance of this achievement is lost in the tiredness of the overarching goal.
Maybe in Season 3, we'll get #JusticeForNancy's waste of time.