Barb may be gone, but season 2 of Stranger Things has at least one new character that could become a similar fan-favorite. When Stranger Things hit Netflix last year, a number of factors helped make it one of the most talked-about series of 2016. There was the talented young ensemble, the uniquely lovable Eleven, the eerie music and atmosphere. No one, however, could have predicted that a minor character with no real plot significance would emerge as one of the show's most defining attributes.
To be fair, much of the fandom around Barb seems to be akin to a meme. Fans were annoyed the writers didn't bother addressing the character's fate, and thus the #JusticeforBarb trend began. While the character won't be back this season, the creators have acknowledged that Barb will get her sought-after justice. Even better, Barb actor Shannon Purser even landed an Emmy nomination for her small role. However, just because Barb is gone, doesn't mean fans won't have plenty of new minor characters to which they can get attached.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2017, we were able to talk to the minds behind Stranger Things and find out a little more about season 2. When we spoke with producer/director Shawn Levy, we broached the question of whether any Barb-esque characters would win our hearts in Stranger Things season 2. Levy replied as follows:
"Yes. It’s Sean Astin. Yeah. Sean Astin as Bob is going to be, I’m saying it, but he’s kind of going to be the Barb of Season 2. His part is substantially bigger. He’s in a lot of episodes. He is magnificent. And one thing the Duffers do really well is when they see what an actor is capable of, they write to that. They don’t make the actor play what’s on the page. They often change what’s on the page to exploit everything that’s unique about that actor. They did it with Steve Harrington last season and this season again and they did it big time with Sean Astin who as Bob I think is going to be a Barb level fan favorite."
We know a little about Astin's character, but not much. Still, he continues the show's trend of pulling in '80s stars to help add to the air of nostalgia around Stranger Things. And while Bob will be similar to Barb in the role he fills, the show's creators want to make it clear that he's his own character. When we asked the Duffer Brothers about the Bob/Barb comparison, they had this to say:
"It’s hard to know. I mean, we weren’t expecting the Barb phenomenon. But I will say he has more lines than Barb. And Sean Astin is, he’s one of those guys that he wasn’t initially how we were envisioning the role but, once he came on board and once we started seeing what he was doing with his character, he just changed the entire trajectory, really of some of the plot of the show and certainly of that character. He’s an incredibly likable guy in real life and then also hopefully in the show. I love Bob. I think other people will too.
But Barb may have been lightning in the bottle. I don’t know. We are not with any character trying to create a new Barb. It’s a fruitless exercise."
With Stranger Things just a few more months away, we'll likely start discovering more and more about the show in the coming weeks. Then again, the series operates with a healthy dose of mystery, so fans will probably have to wait until Halloween to learn too much.
Stranger Things season 2 premieres October 27 on Netflix.