Yeah. Swoon. For the shrub that is. But also feel your heartbreak for the shrub’s neglect. And also gag at Barb’s apathy towards the fact that she was literally sitting next to the coolest girl in school and didn’t know it.
Remember in high school, all of the so-called “cool” kids would be ostentatiously moving their arms and legs, not to mention ostentatiously simply having arms and legs? And you sat there, rotund, weighed down by dense foliage, scarred weekly by the gardener? You pathetic pariah, you were so desperate for affection that you even considered that one time you were sprinkled with processed chicken shit your first kiss. It’s okay. We all did. And looking back, it’s not pathetic, it’s bold. If only we’d known it then.
While the brooding art bros took photos, you photosynthesized. They said you had an eating disorder because you were always stuffing your chloroplasts with light, but you didn’t let that stifle your inner light.
You didn’t have the ability to think about being some kind of ironic style icon, firstly because you couldn’t think. And you were too asymmetrical, you could hardly contain your twisted, bounteous parts, chubby, lumpy, repulsive, and you wouldn’t have even fit into Barb’s iconic cerulean puffy coat — if she’d ever even asked. At best, you could wear an incidental squirrel. But you know what? Looking back, incidental squirrel was effortlessly chic. Other girls sprayed their hair to look like you. You had been wearing the ’80s ‘do since the mesozoic, or something. You were quintessentially uber-’80s before the ’80s even existed.
You had so much to say with so little, like when the wind blew and your leaves flapped and made sounds, or when the aforementioned person peed on you and the splashing made a wonderfully sardonic comment about the inanity of high school culture. You wished you could have sex-negatively scowled at Nancy like Barb for two episodes before being kidnapped by the puckered pink monster. But you shouldn’t have doubted yourself. Barb is a myth. We were all This Shrub Next to Barb. And This Shrub Next to Barb is the undeniable best character in Stranger Things.
Barb is a conspiracy cooked up by pop culture to make us feel bad for not having interiority or faces, to make us think we need to be Barbs when really we’re all This Shrub Next to Barb: broad-leaved, multi-stemmed, often deciduous. But here’s the thing we have that Barb never again will: life. Because of that worm thing that crawled out of her rotting corpse. To quote Beyoncé, “Barb, bye.” It’s 2016, and no one’s gonna impeach this bush.