This post contains mild spoilers and hyperbolic language about Stranger Things Season 2, and one character in particular.
We were never going to get another Barb on Stranger Things. A side character turned icon of her time, killed too soon by a gigantic, interdimensional Venus flytrap, Barb was great. But she’s dead, and we have to move on in Season 2—except for Nancy, who’s on a true sophomore-season downward spiral defined by binge-drinking and awkward KFC dinners with Barb’s parents.
Thankfully, in Barb’s stead, there is a new meme hero, a mullet-rocking, crustache-sporting newcomer for all the masses to deify and worship. Meet Billy. And before we go any further: Yes, Billy is a real character on Stranger Things and not from an SNL parody of Stranger Things.
Let’s zoom in a little further, shall we?
Played by Power Rangers actor Dacre Montgomery, Billy looks like the perfected form of the ’80s Rebel Teen archetype, which is exactly what the Duffer brothers ordered. This is how a casting call for Season 2 described the character: “He steals girlfriends away from their boyfriends, is great at drinking games, and drives a black Camaro.” Fuck yeah, he does. (Fun fact: Montgomery told Refinery29 that he nabbed the role by recording himself dancing in a G-string, which is not recommended for most job interviews, but worked great here.)
Look, I know Season 2 just dropped hours ago, and I’ll admit I’ve seen only three episodes so far, but I feel confident confirming that Billy is now the most important part of Stranger Things. I can also confirm two more things: Billy does drive a black Camaro. As for his drinking-game skills? Check this out:
According to a very animated nearby bro, my dude Billy hit this keg stand for more than 40 seconds, after which he was rightfully dubbed the keg-stand king. Hell yeah!
While Billy hasn’t been involved—at least, through three episodes—with any of the supernatural stuff in Hawkins, Indiana, he has proved to be a worthy antagonist to Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), as the two go head-to-head for the title of “coolest kid at school.” Steve had that on lock in Season 1, but now there’s a new leather-jacket-wearer in town.
Is Nancy unimpressed, or begrudgingly dazzled? You be the judge.
Steve and Billy’s rivalry reaches an apex in Episode 3 during a phys ed basketball game, in what is inarguably the best scene in the early episodes of Season 2.
This is the staredown of a lockdown defender; shades of Patrick Beverley versus Lonzo Ball, if Beverley were for some reason shirtless. (I bet Beverley would D up shirtless if the NBA allowed it.) Billy brings the trash talk in the post, too: “I heard you used to run this school,” he says in Steve’s ear. “That true? King Steve, they used to call you, huh? Then you turned bitch.” Alright, maybe Billy’s a little too expository with his smack, but I’m here for it.
Billy then straight up emasculates Steve, just in time for Nancy to see.
The disrespect, my lord. Obviously, as a layup on a TV show, this can’t be in the Best Worst Movie Dunk conversation, but it’s the right kind of stupid, and it almost deserves to be mentioned regardless.
In the face of massive Season 2 hype, Billy is exactly what Stranger Things needed. Besides bringing some much-needed levity to what is a much darker season, he is also the kind of character who expands the show’s world. Ridiculous as he is, he gives us more to chew on, while also challenging the show’s already established characters and coaxing new elements out of them. The show is hinting at some dark undertones with Billy, mostly in terms of how he treats his 13-year-old stepsister, Max (Sadie Sink), and that could play a bigger role in Season 2’s final six episodes.
But for now, we’re supposed to have some fun with this guy—I mean, look at that mullet! Stranger Things has a knack for creating extremely minor characters who inspire extremely exaggerated reactions, so allow me to say: Billy isn’t the new Barb—he’s better.