The low rumble turned into an enthusiastic hum turned into a cacophonous din of praise. Stranger Things on Netflix.
I’m three episodes in, and I am in love.
Much has already been written about what is so great about this show. If you were an adolescent/teenager in the early 80s it’s a nostalgia supernova, incorporating all the Spielbergian tropes of the era (kids versus adults, supernatural friendships, the horror-tastic underbelly of suburbia, missing children speaking through electric devices) with a heavy dose of Dungeons & Dragons thrown in for good measure. There’s the deliciousness of casting 80s heartthrob Matthew Modine as the show’s sinister antagonist. And, of course, there’s Winona Ryder channeling JoBeth Williams and Dee Wallace and every harried single mother from the era in what’s probably her best performance in decades.
It’s goddamn delightful.
I was 13 years old in 1983; this show is almost painful to watch, the attention to detail is so exquisite. I’ve viewed these first three episodes with a curator’s eye, which makes it no less enjoyable. I’ve squealed inwardly as well as audibly at some of the stuff I’ve noticed (The Dark Crystal poster on Mike’s bedroom wall! The Trapper Keepers the kids are stuffing into their lockers!).
And then there’s Barb.
THIS is what I’m going to get all thinkpiece-y over, folks. BARB IS THE BEST GODDAMN THING ON THIS SHOW.
When I first saw her, I legitimately gasped. Like – mad props to the costumers on this show, because they NAILED it with Barb. The high-necked ruffle blouses (that sartorial nod to “prairie girl” culture), the mom jeans, the princess-sleeved puffy jacket. My God. Perfection. Even Barb’s hair and glasses were spot-the-fuck-on. You can picture her carefully managing that coiffure with a curling iron.
BARB IS A QUEEN.
I knew Barb back then. I may have even been a little Barb myself. Barb was the nice girl you ate lunch with. Barb might have been a horse girl, or a Jesus girl, or a little bit of both. Barb’s not the smartest kid in class, but she’s a pretty solid B student. Barb. ALL HAIL BARB.
(Here be spoilers….so read no further if you haven’t seen the show yet.)
Okay? The rest of you with me here? Let’s talk about what happens to Barb. Because I was not ready for what happened to Barb.
When what happened to Barb happened, I was INDIGNANT. I yelled at the television: “WHY?! That’s not supposed to happen! Barb’s not the sexually active one in this bunch! This is supposed to happen to the slutty mean girl! THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS.” First she loses her best friend to the hunk with the pompadour, then THAT.
I mean, Jesus. You can’t do this to Barb. You can’t do this to ME. I don’t how I’m going to get through the next five episodes not looking forward to seeing what Barb’s wearing. I wanted to see Barb rocking one of those Bermuda bags with the changeable, button on covers. Because you KNOW Barb has one. Probably monogrammed, too.
Who do I have to talk to about having Barb come back? Because if Will can talk to Winona Ryder through a string of Christmas tree bulbs, Barb should be able to talk to Nancy through a curling iron (“Heat up if you can hear me!”). I’m serious.