All weekend, I’m checking in on Twitter, and I see a good 4,000 think pieces and hot takes on Stranger Things 2. Everyone’s like, “Oh f*ck Barb. Get over it already!” or, “Ugh. Was Episode 7: The Goddamn Sister” episode really necessary? Or “Mike & Will: How can you tell them apart?” Or “NANCY, WHAT ARE YOU EVEN THINKING?” I think I even saw a few think pieces that were basically just people posting screencaps of Hopper dancing and licking their computer screens.
You know what I didn’t see a lot of think pieces about? That Bob is the real hero of Stranger Things 2. Or, “I’m so sorry, Bob, we misjudged you.” Or, “Bob is the first Mom’s boyfriend we have ever loved.”
You people have been sleeping on Bob.
Sean Astin is probably used to it, though. People have been sleeping on him his whole life.
You know he has a brother, right? Mackenzie Astin, and back in the 80s, it was never Sean Astin who made the cover of Teen Beat. It was always Mackenzie, the guy from Facts of Life, and never Sean, who actually had a movie career instead of playing sixth fiddle to a character named Tootie in a bland family sitcom.
Goonies, likewise, is beloved, but when people talk about Goonies, they talk about Corey Feldman’s character, or Martha Plimpton, or Josh Brolin, or Chunk or Sloth, or Mama Fratelli. No one ever talks about Sean Astin, WHO PLAYED THE LEAD IN THAT MOVIE.
Rudy also gets a lot of props, but Astin rarely does for his work on that movie. Astin was Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings movies, but he’s the last one mentioned when people talk about those films. People have been sleeping on Sean Astin his whole career, and all he’s done is post 139 entries to his IMDB profile, star in an iconic 80’s movie, and iconic 90’s movie movie and play one of the leads in one of the biggest film franchises of all time.
Despite that success, Sean Astin is still treated as a novelty actor, a guy you maybe bring in for nostalgia’s sake. That’s pretty much why he was cast in Stranger Things 2.
But you know what? He nailed it.
In Stranger Things 2, Astin plays Bob. Bob is a prototypical good guy. He’s someone who Joyce slept on in high school because it took her 20 years to realize that maybe a trustworthy, dependable presence in her life might be a good thing. Bob loves Joyce, and he’d do anything for her. Joyce basically repays him by stringing him along and occasionally making out with him because you know way down deep inside she’s got it bad for Hopper, because she’s really into damaged, brooding authority figures with soft hearts and drinking problems.
I think Bob probably knows it, too, but he plays it cool. Bob thinks if he proves himself enough times, Joyce will finally be won over, even though we all know that Joyce is never gonna move away with Bob. She’s way too much into the drama. Also, Hopper and that hairy barrel chest. But he tries anyway. He makes eager attempts to bond with her kids. He brings soup and brain teasers when Will is feeling a little under the possessed by a shadow monster. The kids, though? They just roll their eyes at good ole’ oblivious Bob and his lame Dad jokes.
But that lame Dad proved resourceful, didn’t he, Joyce? He figured out Will’s maps, and he saved Hopper. And how did Hopper repay him? With a, “Hey Bob! How’s it going?” (the subtext, of course, was “thanks for saving my life. I’m totally gonna bang your girlfriend in season 3.”)
But once Bob got sucked into this family’s drama, he didn’t bail. He didn’t ghost Joyce when he found out that her son had a telepathic connection with a shadow monster trying to destroy the world. He stood by that family. He went the extra mile; he was Joyce’s rock when her son telepathically engineered the murder of a group of soldiers. Bob’s a good man.
And when those demidogs started their assault of the lab, did Bob cut bait and run? Hell no. He put himself in mortal danger because he was the only guy who knew BASIC. BOB SACRIFICED HIMSELF FOR THAT FAMILY. Without Bob, Joyce and Hopper and Will and Mike would all be dead. Hell, we’d ALL dead. Kilt by a Shadow Monster.
Bob made the ultimate sacrifice, and The Duffer Brothers killed him off for it. And yet, they let Paul Reiser live. That motherfucker who divorced his wife on Mad About You gets to live, and Rudy has to die? It’s not fair. Bob deserved better than being human nougat to a demidog. Bob deserved Joyce (though she didn’t deserve him), and the family, and the house in the country, and the supervisor position at Radio Shack, but no! He didn’t even get a mention in the epilogue’s news report, which was all about Barb, WHO SACRIFICED NOTHING.
It ain’t right, y’all. Bob was a hero. He was the MVP of season 2 and he got treated like a second-rate novelty character. STORY OF SEAN ASTIN’S LIFE.