Stranger Things :: Barbara “Barb” Holland

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Stranger Things (2016)
Created by The Duffer Brothers

I fell hard and fast for the Netflix Original Series, “Stranger Things”, and broke my anti-binge policy to binge the hell out of it. I just couldn’t help myself. It was a near perfect show, to me, and I have yet to be able to shake it. So, to keep it still going, in some way, I am going to do a character-by-character post, starting with the TREMENDOUS female characters – cheers to shows who feature such strong and complex females.

Beware – there will be spoilers here.

Barbara Holland
played by Shannon Purser

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Barbara “Barb” Holland is only in five episodes (per IMDB, though it felt like less), and is not in very many scenes, though, in spite of that, she has caused quite a stir online, and offline. She’s been the subject of street art and fan art, and many a conversation and hashtag (check the tags #justiceforbarb and #Barbisbetterthanallofyou). She is Nancy’s best friend and confidante, and is second to Mike in the mysterious disappearing into the “Upside Down”.

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Everything about Barb felt familiar to me from the first time I saw her on-screen. She dresses and has her hair almost exactly as I did my freshman year of high school, and is even built a bit like I was. She has a quiet strength that emanates off of her, and has a lot of heart, especially when it comes to Nancy. Barb has a bit of that “goodie-goodie” image about her, the same image that Nancy has, but seems to be trying to step out of. But Barb is no pushover, she speaks her mind, and is loyal, possibly to a fault.

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I would argue that if developed more, we would learn that Barb has feelings beyond friendship for Nancy. I would love to see a queer character explored from an 80’s perspective, if my intuitions of Barb are true.

Maybe in Season 2.

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Oh, yeah, I know they found her body, with a snake slithering through her mouth. But, I have theories about the “Upside Down”, and the notions of life and death. I do think, given time down there life is transformed, and much like worm-spewing, “resurrected” Mike, I think it’s quite possible that Barb will return.

I also think that Eleven knew that Will and Barb were lost to the world, at least in the way people would have known them before. But, I don’t think they are necessarily dead, nor alive – I think they are something in-between. Even in the picture above, Barb almost seems to be preserved, in a state of almost frozen, perhaps in a state of evolution.

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Barb was the one story line I feel was lost along the way, and is actually my only real complaint about the show. No one, including the police, seemed bothered by her disappearance. Where do they assume she went? As I just said to a friend of mine, I’d love to think she ran off with Duran Duran, or to join The Bangles, but there is no way that she would have just run away with no real reason.

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Nancy seemed genuinely concerned, so much so that she rebelled against her parents and her boyfriend in order to go looking or Barb. She even crawled into that nasty tree to find her. So, when Barb is found, why did we not see a later reaction from the town, or at least from Nancy. As much as I appreciated the moment where Nancy gave Jonathan the camera, I wanted a moment of her remembering Barb.

Barb deserved more, and knowing what we know on Nancy, she would have memorialized her in some way. She went after a monster to seek vengeance, and to (hopefully) save her friend. She would have done something to remember her by.

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Long live Barb! We love you!

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