Audiences’ first real knowledge of Shannon Purser came two years ago, when a character she played in Stranger Things botched an attempt to shotgun a beer, cut open her hand, got dismissed by her best friend, and spent the evening alone, sitting desolate by a pool, contemplating her life choices. When a drop of blood from her cut hand spilled into the swimming pool, Barb was pulled into the Upside Down by a Demogorgon. She’s not been seen since.
That scene, and her role on Stranger Things, catapulted Purser into something of a meme celebrity, but it also ended her run on Stranger Things — for now. Unfortunately, poor Shannon Purser hasn’t stopped playing Barb since.
Soon after Stranger Things, Purser was cast as Ethel in Riverdale, continuing with her trend of anachronistic names. Her character has not fared much better on the CW series. She was introduced as another put-upon character who is slut-shamed by the football team after one of its star players started a rumor that he’d had sex with her as a part of an ongoing bet to see who could have sex with the most classmates. The “playbook” collecting the names of these conquests was eventually pilfered away, only for Ethel to discover that she was described as a “big girl” within the pages of the book.
Things only got worse, after that. Her family began fighting after her father lost his job. He subsequently attempted to kill himself, and when Veronica befriended Ethel, Veronica offered to help, only Ethel soon found out that it was Veronica’s Dad who was responsible for firing her father from his job. Ethel did, however, get a modicum of revenge when she dumped a milkshake over Veronica’s head in season 2.
Meanwhile, Purser has been able to split time as a doormat this year, also playing Annabelle in a part that was written specifically for her. If I’m Purser, I legit don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult, because in Rise, Annabelle is a lovelorn theater geek who is in love with a closeted gay classmate. But wait: It gets worse! The gay classmate is stringing her along — and in last night’s episode, tried to have sex with her — in an effort to disguise his own sexuality. She plays a beard. Annabelle is the only character on the show who doesn’t recognize what is obvious to everyone else, and when she finds out, she’s going to wish she was dragged into the Upside Down by a Demogorgon.
The good news for Shannon Purser, however, is that her next role is as the lead in a feature film. It’s called Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.
Shannon Purser plays Sierra Burgess.