Okay, here’s a question that’s probably going to prove unpopular.
Sure, Barb from Stranger Things is great. We all love Barb – she is the everyperson of the show. The character that most people would probably be if an interdimensional monster started showing up to eat people.
But does Shannon Purser, who played Barb for her combined half an hour or so of screen time, really deserve an Emmy nod? Was her performance genuinely one of the most impressive, commanding offerings of the year? Or has the award body simply thrown a nomination her way because her character was popular?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the hugely popular #JusticeForBarb social media campaign played a large part in Purser’s nomination – fans easily fell in love with her character, and wanted to do everything in their power to give her the recognition she deserves.
We all know that if Stranger Things really happened, as much as we’d like to be a Chief Hopper or a Joyce Byers, we’d probably be a Barb. Snuffed out in minutes, having been dragged to a party we didn’t want to attend.
We’ve all been sat as the awkward third wheel in social situations, and ended up very quickly out of our depth when things go wrong (although not, thankfully, as literally as Barb).
It’s no surprise that people rallied around Barb, and it has to be remembered that the people who vote for the Emmy awards are also human, and aren’t untouched by the character’s resonance.
How much of this love for Barb came from Shannon Purser’s performance is up for debate – certainly, it is an incredible skill to provide a relatable performance that audiences from all walks of life can project themselves onto. But is Purser’s work really one of the best guest performances of the year?
Of course, it’s all probably a moot point. Carrie Fisher was also nominated posthumously in the same category for her work in Catastrophe, so it’s pretty likely that the Emmy board decided to give her a much deserved award in recognition of her decades of fantastic television work, and then got stuck trying to come up with other people to nominate alongside her.
Shannon Purser, then, was an obvious choice simply because nobody could shut up about how great her character is.
Regardless, congratulations Shannon Purser, and try to not to rub it in when you next see Wynona Rider, who inexplicably lost out on a nomination for her own work on Stranger Things.