Justice for Barb.
It’s a rallying cry that took on a life of its own following the release of the first season of “Stranger Things”.
More so than the later Justice for Benny movement, Justice for Barb was always about a desire to see more of the wallflower best friend character that got the rawest deal in “Stranger Things”.
Audiences saw themselves reflected in Barb, more so than in Nancy, and as such, when Barb bites the dust through no fault of her own, it feels particularly painful.
In my opinion, “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” looks like it’ll finally deliver the justice that Barb deserves.
Shannon Purser, who played Barb in season one of “Stranger Things”, has now been given her own movie, in which she essentially plays the same character.
Barb With a Big Nose
Sierra Burgess, it’s clear from the movie’s title, isn’t exactly the coolest kid in school.
As a matter of fact, the trailer hammers this point home over and over and over, with characters constantly stating just how lame she is.
Of course, we don’t actually see anything to prove this. Sierra looks pretty unpopular, sure, but she’s clearly very cool, smart, and capable in her own way.
This is a riff on the classic play “Cyrano de Bergerac”, in which an ugly man with an exceptionally large nose gets a friend to read poetry to his crush in order to get her to fall in love with him.
“Sierra Burgess” seems to follow exactly the same story, except with all the genders flipped. Notice the name – Sierra is literally a female Cyrano.
(For the record, I did not know the name of the play off the top of my head. I googled “old story where the guy with a big nose writes poetry and gets his hot friend to read it to a girl to make her fall in love with him”. Kudos to Google for instantly figuring out what I meant!)
I’m really excited about all this. I think that Purser is a horribly underappreciated actor, and she’s perfect for this kind of role. While it’s been a long time since the heyday of the teen romance movie (which were almost always based on popular regency plays), Purser is the perfect star to spearhead Netflix’s latest attack of weaponized nostalgia.
The only thing that could ruin it would be too much of a “Stranger Things” connection.
Death To References
It’s clear from everything in the trailer that we’re all supposed to see the connection to Barb that’s baked into this movie.
The font used for the movie’s logo is a cute, softened variant on the classic “Stranger Things” look. Purser even sports a pair of Barb-style giant glasses!
This is a project that’s designed, from the ground up, as a way to appeal to fans of “Stranger Things” who want to see more of Purser.
This is fine, so long as it doesn’t go too far. I don’t want a movie that’s so stuffed full of references and nods to the Duffer Brothers’ show that there’s no room for actual character development.
In an ideal world, the plot of this movie should be kept barebones enough to allow Purser to shine as much as possible. This is her big moment in the spotlight (the first of many, I hope!) and I want her to get a chance to be herself.
We already know that we love Purser. We loved her when she was Barb, and we’ll lover her as Sierra Burgess.
Finally, we’re going to get justice for Barb. I can’t wait!