EXCLUSIVE: 'Stranger Things' Breakout Shannon Purser on Barb's Appeal
By Stacy Lambe
Barbara Holland -- or, simply, Barb -- is the definition of
a scene stealer.
A loyal, responsible, less cool version of her best friend,
Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), Barb undeservingly gets pulled into the Upside
Down world after cutting her hand open while trying to shotgun a beer given to
her by Nancy’s boyfriend, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). After her
disappearance, no one seems to care, with her fate only revealed in the final
moments of the season. Her death is shocking and unfair, and had fans demanding
#JusticeforBarb just days after Stranger
Things debuted on Netflix over the summer.
While Barb only had a handful of scenes onscreen, Shannon
Purser -- a newcomer in her first screen role -- infused the character with the
right amount of teen angst to make her stand out to audiences. “I think Barb
kind of appeals to everyone,” Purser tells ET. “Everybody has a little bit of
insecurity or wondering if they're good enough or cool enough, even the people
that we think of as traditionally beautiful or popular. It's just a natural
tendency for everybody to have some insecurity.”
“I think everybody sympathized with her because they saw
themselves in her,” Purser says, adding that despite all of that, Barb is
confident. “She knows who she is, she doesn't care who she impresses.” A lesson
we could have all used in high school.
Probably the most unexpected reaction from fans was to
Barb’s outfits, which consisted of ruffled blouses, high-waisted mom jeans and
oversized glasses. “Who doesn't love a good mom jean?” Purser says.
While she has dreams of one day starring in an adaptation of
Rainbow Rowell’s YA novel Eleanor &
Park, Purser will be next seen in The CW’s Riverdale as Ethel Muggs, the upcoming thriller Wish Upon and the ensemble comedy Life of the Party, starring Melissa
McCarthy and Maya Rudolph. But sadly, there are no plans for a return to Stranger Things in season two.
“The Duffer brothers are super creative and thoughtful; I'm
sure they have a reason for everything they've done,” Purser says. As series co-creator
Matt Duffer told IGN: “We’ll make sure there’s some justice for Barb.”