This in response to the article from i09. I enjoyed Stranger Things. Hell, I even posted the announcement of the show’s premier before the mothership. And despite a flaws which stood out for me*, I would recommend this to anyone.
Fandom is a strange thing. In the streaming series Stranger Things, Barb who is the best friend of a main character is killed by the Monster and became the unexpected fan favorite.
It must be her appearance; the overall geek aesthetic that resonated with so many. But the simple truth is there really is not much to her, and by all accounts is meant to be a minor character. Barb and others like her serve the purpose/arc that lies in tragedy/death not in life.
Interestingly, if you do a search for the cast of the show, Barb doesn’t even appear on the list. And on imdb, she is way at the bottom of the list.
But the real mystery is why Barb? Regardless of her appearance, and limited screen time, she is not a memorable character, and yet there is a demand for her. The interest in her is beyond me.
What about all the other truly memorable victims?
Before I go on, I’m well aware that the characters below are from movies not t.v. shows, yet I used them because they are from iconic stories that people will readily remember and it speaks to my point in that even with limited screen time, they each made an impact.
In Psycho, Marion Crane doesn’t last long, killed by Norman Bates very early in the movie, her murder, shocking as it was, has always been accepted as part of the unexpected thing that happens to any given person.
<-What about Teresa “Terry” Gionoffrio from Rosemary’s Baby? Upon learning that she is to carry the Antichrist, she is driven to suicide or pushed out a window. Killed in order to bestow the honor of birthing Satan's Child to Rosemary.
What about Casey Becker from the original Scream? In the intro of the movie, she is stabbed multiple times and lynched in order to scare the audience and to exhibit the evil that Ghostface is capable of.
Respectively, these actors did a great job in the small space allotted to them. More so than Barb, imho.
And let’s not forget Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. In Star Wars: A New Hope both are killed because the Stormtroopers tracked the Droids to their farm, and to show Luke the extent of The Empire’s ruthlessness. Also, done to free Skywalker from a life less desired.
And once their murder has been depicted the story goes on with little to no mention of them again.
But who grieves for these memorable victims?
And why is there so much for Barb?
This type of death is there in furtherance of the main character’s arc, and/or depict how the monster/killer is an unrepentant agent of evil and the jeopardy the good guys and gals face. Nothing more. Barb has something working against her that the aforementioned characters do not have: a noticeable speaking part.
Fictional stories are a reflection of real life. Murder is part of that, an unjust act upon somebody who does not deserve, who’s murderer is not always brought to justice. Trust me, I know this. And the living, even in grief, do one thing: Move on.
From an interview with the creators of Stranger Things:
Matt Duffer—of the Duffer Brothers—noted how fans reacted to the character’s death and assured those reading that there would be “repercussions” in the event that the show is picked up for a second season.
While she probably won’t come back (it could’ve happened), he ensures that her death will be explored.
The actor has been cast in other roles since her appearance in Stranger Things, therefore I hope there won’t be an over-saturation of Barb in the next season in any context as some form of atonement for her unceremonious demise. Keep in mind, in the epilogue of episode 8, there isn’t even a mention of the character, reinforcing the simple fact that she was nothing more than a plot device, as many others before and after. It’s a part of storytelling.
*I’ve made the observation that Eleven is not given much to say (speaking part) throughout all eight episodes and should not have been treated as The Unicorn. Despite the circumstances she came from, there should be more of the lone girl surrounded by boys, wouldn’t you say?
Why is there no outcry over this?