Didn't Barb deserve better?

Didn't Barb deserve better?
Credit: Netflix

WARNING: There are Stranger Things spoilers below.

Netflix’s Stranger Things has received a pretty tremendous response from viewers and critics since it premiered earlier this month, and one of the most unexpected breakouts from the show has been Barb, the “nerdy,” bullshit-calling best friend of doe-eyed teen Nancy Wheeler (Natalie Dyer). Memes, fan art and hashtags have resulted from the character's surprising popularity, leaving “Barb” herself -- or rather, Shannon Purser, making her screen debut -- a little aghast at all the attention. "The internet buzz for Barb specifically was a lot more than I ever expected,” Purser told Vulture in a recent interview. “Me and my sisters and my mom, we all gather around and look at all the fan art. It's absolutely incredible.”

I happen to be one of Barb’s many admirers, and I think it’s because she not only plays one of my favorite ‘80s archetypes -- the big-spectacled third wheel/confidante, perpetually underestimated -- but because Purser brings a realness and vulnerability to the role that transcends that archetype. It’s also why I happen to be a little frustrated that she didn’t get a proper send-off. After being so cruelly snatched from that backyard diving board and dragged into the Upside Down, Barb is quickly dispatched by the show's resident monster and later found dead in a pile of green slime.

It’s not the fact that Barb died that bothers me -- though if I’d had it my way, she definitely would have finished out the season alive -- but rather that, aside from a smattering of silent, teary-eyed remorse from Nancy, who after all did coldly shoo her away so she could sleep with her big-haired boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery), Barb isn’t much mentioned again after her body is discovered, and we never even see the reaction of Barb’s family to either her disappearance or demise (I imagine her mother and father sporting that same orange bouffant and affection for frilly collars, by the way). Didn’t Barb deserve better than that, not least for the fact that she was such a loyal friend? Didn't she deserve to be properly mourned?

Listen, Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers could never could have predicted the cult that would spring up around Barb, so it’s somewhat understandable that they didn’t give what amounts to a tertiary character a proper arc. Still, their treatment of her in an otherwise solid series does, ironically, adhere to the archetype Purser so winningly transcended. After all, the best friend never gets the ending she deserves. 

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Checking in on 'Bojack Horseman,' 'Stranger Things' and the Netflix revolution with Alan Sepinwall

Checking in on 'Bojack Horseman,'  'Stranger Things' and the Netflix revolution with Alan Sepinwall

Netflix is everywhere.  For the kids, the family and the serious viewers.  Alan Sepinwall has talked to the creators of its recent sensations Bojack Horseman and Stranger Things and in the video above discusses what this content tsunami means for TV fans.

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The most romantic storyline of the summer is on 'Big Brother'

The most romantic storyline of the summer is on 'Big Brother'

Clip It: Each day, Jon Davis looks at the world of trailers, featurettes and clips and puts it all in perspective.

It's an exciting summer. We got a crazy election. The Summer Olympics is on the way. There are female Ghostbusters, talking pets and '80s monsters bedeviling young children. But you know what's missing? Romance! Just the most important thing there is in this cruel world. So we turn to you, Big Brother, to give us something for that which our aching souls lack. 

This season, James and Natalie, the most adorable people in the Big Brother house, have found something together. And that something is love. James is a returning player. Otherwise known as Captain Camo, he's the house trickster, always playing practical jokes on his fellow houseguests. This year, he gave us those practical jokes again, spreading cheese on sleeping people and jumping out of trash cans. But recently, James has been preoccupied with something - or rather, someone else - Natalie the former NFL cheerleader, a new player with a heart of platinum, which from my understanding of credit cards, is worth more than gold.

You can be cynical if you want, but my heart melted into chicken tenders when James won the HOH on the promise that Natalie would give him a kiss on the lips. True to her word, their lip smack was the lip smack heard around the world, as teddy bears came to life and hearts lit afire to the sound of human connection. The one bit of advice I'd give them is that affection isn't earned, it's something that's built together. But they'll get there. Trust.  

Big Brother has had its share of "showmances," the reality TV term for people who meet-cute on a TV show. But none as pure as James and Natalie. Not since Luke and Laura, or at least Jeff and Jordan, has a couple wormed its way into a strife-ridden summer and made us feel whole again. 

I can't say that these two are good at the actual game of Big Brother. But what I can say is that they make the house a better place. Two underdogs. Two not-tall people. Two lovers. 

Watch them and weep.

 

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Side-by-side comparisons of 'Stranger Things' and its movie inspirations

"I understood that reference."
Side-by-side comparisons of 'Stranger Things' and its movie inspirations
Credit: Netflix

Netflix's Stranger Things is the hit of the summer, and that's thanks in part to the nostalgia it brings to mind for a lot of people. You probably noticed a lot of nods to films of the past while watching but check out this side-by-side comparison.

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Netflix announces 'Black Mirror' release date, renewals, pick ups and more

Netflix announces 'Black Mirror' release date, renewals, pick ups and more
Credit: Netflix

Release dates, renewals and green lights. Oh my.

Netflix announced no shortage of news at the Television Critics Association summer press
tour. Perhaps the most exciting information is that the Twilight Zone-style anthology series Black Mirror will be released on the streaming service on October 21. The third season of the show will feature six episodes and star such celebs as Bryce Dallas Howard and Malachi Kirby of Roots fame.

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'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life' finally has a Netflix premiere date

'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life' finally has a Netflix premiere date
Credit: Netflix

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life finally has a premiere date: November 25, appropriately in fall. The highly-anticipated reunion series — in which Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson and Kelly Bishop all revive their roles — will consist of four parts, each one following a different season. Each installment will be 90-minutes long.

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Jimmy Fallon and Michael Fassbender play "Frozen Blackjack" on 'Tonight Show'

Jimmy Fallon and Michael Fassbender play "Frozen Blackjack" on 'Tonight Show'
Credit: NBC

On The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, guest Michael Fassbender and host Jimmy Fallon found a unique way to cool down this summer: a few rounds of "Frozen Blackjack." The game follows the basic rules of blackjack until the end .. where the loser gets a pitcher of ice cold water poured down his pants. 

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To no one's surprise, 'Carpool Karaoke' officially gets picked up to series

To no one's surprise, 'Carpool Karaoke' officially gets picked up to series
Credit: CBS

Finally, Carpool Karaoke is becoming an official series. We all knew that this would happen eventually, especially after the success of Spike's Lip Sync Karaoke (based on a segment that originated on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) and the recently announced Caraoke Showdown (that very well may be a ripoff of James Corden's idea). The only surprise is the network: Apple Music. 

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'Stranger Things' creators explain it all about season 1

What about Barb? Why is Dustin so much fun? What happened to Dr. Brenner?
<p>Stranger Things</p>

Stranger Things

Credit: Netflix

I really enjoyed Netflix's Stranger Things, an unapologetic tribute to the works of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, John Carpenter, and other masters of suspense and horror that creators Matt and Ross Duffer grew up loving. (Here's my initial review, and here are some spoiler-heavy thoughts on the season.)

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William Friedkin 'definitely' didn't give his blessing to 'The Exorcist' TV series

Upcoming Fox series is going to be a tough sell
William Friedkin 'definitely' didn't give his blessing to 'The Exorcist' TV series
Credit: FOX

Forgive me and the rest of the planet for being skeptical of Fox's upcoming Exorcist TV series, but when you reboot the most iconic horror film of all time, there's bound to be a little blowback. Then again, maybe we're looking at this thing all wrong? Here's creator Jeremy Slater, who claims the show isn't a remake/reboot at all but a "continuation" of the original film, which I guess is supposed to make us feel better.

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