When we as an internet latch onto something, it gets dragged around like a dog toy. First lovingly, excitedly stoked for this fun new toy, then thrashed and slashed into unrecognizable remnants that look a lot more like hate than love. Such is the journey of Barb, the “forgotten hero” or the “frumpy wet blanket” of Stranger Things depending upon your #HotTake.
The truth is, Barb is, like, not that big a deal in terms of the show itself. Everyone can pretty much calm down. There’s no way you actually hate her outside of just being a contrarian who hates things other people like and it’s probably unlikely you actually think she’s the bestest part of the whole show. She’s fine.
But lost in the sea of think pieces discussing Barb as either this protective best friend or a cockblocking monster selfishly getting in the way of Nancy’s virginity loss lies the experience of most queer high schoolers, especially those who didn’t yet know this was their case.
You have this friend. You love this friend. A lot. You want to spend all day and all night with this friend, just talking and being around each other. You’re so happy with this friend.
Then. She meets a guy.
And oh my goodddddddddddd this guy sucks. He’s a douche and he has douche friends and everyone is stupid, and why can’t it just go back to being you and your friend being super best friend gal pals just gal pallin’ around just the two of you again? Like just us. No, but, like, just us.
And then it doesn’t and you either die horribly in the upside down or you realize years and years later that you’re just bi and were crushing on your friend and couldn’t figure it out because kids are kind of dumb, and it never occurred to you despite the fact that long before this happened your Barbies were only into each other and never had any interest in Ken’s sad bulge.
So, basically, that’s why we like Barb. Because, Barb, WE GET IT.