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The Internet Got Barb From ‘Stranger Things’ an Emmy Nomination

The memes have gone too far


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Don’t come to me with your complaints about The Leftovers getting shut out, or how ridiculous it is that House of Cards continues to rake in praise. I only want to talk about one nomination.

WHAT. You’ve got to be kidding. [Crushes Coke can with mind.]

Shannon, this is not your fault. Purser is a capable actress who did a very good job of rolling her eyes and wearing neck-high blouses before dying two episodes into the first season of Stranger Things, but haven’t we gone too far? Barb was a character of minimal importance who spoke only about 10 times. Before we saw her in the Upside Down with alien slime-bugs crawling out of her mouth later in the season, the most memorable thing about Barb was that she sliced her hand open because she didn’t know how to shotgun a beer.

Her death was a blip on the radar. It didn’t get any further attention on Stranger Things because it didn’t deserve any. Don’t tell the internet that, though.

"What about Barb?" became a rallying cry online, and, as things go around here, the grassroots movement on Twitter quickly morphed into a page views ploy. Months after Stranger Things was released, outlets were still churning out content solely focused on Barb.


During the height of the phenomenon, my colleague Jason Concepcion wrote:

As happens with all overhyped things, the effusive praise for Barb spurred a vicious backlash, which essentially just meant more opportunities for content. This very website published a post that is mostly Mallory Rubin quotes about how Barb is "just another haircut" and how the love for her should be beaten "with a baseball bat." (I concur.)

This Emmy nomination — which I have to assume came from the same voters who nominated Modern Family for the bajillionth time saying to themselves, "I don’t know ANY of these characters, but I guess people sure did seem to like that Barb!" — is the culmination of the Barb movement, and as far as I can tell, the first time a meme translated into an official commendation. (Keep your Donald Trump jokes to yourself.) Seeing Purser’s name alongside Laverne Cox for Orange Is the New Black, Ann Dowd for The Leftovers, and Alexis Bledel for The Handmaid’s Tale only magnifies the absurdity. It’s all very silly and overblown and no longer entertainment; internet jokes officially stop being funny when they’re recognized by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. And if you think this is the end, that this Emmy nomination acts as justice for Barb and that we can all move on from this national blemish, think again! In less than four months, the Duffer brothers will go out of their way to make mention of Barb in Season 2 of Stranger Things. Barb will not rest until she has EGOT-ed. Look what you’ve done, internet.