Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser talks Barb popularity: “Everyone has felt different or weird”

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There are fan favourite characters and then there are fan movements, and the reaction to the character of Barb on Stranger Things’ first season was definitely the latter. Originally a side character in a larger story, she became a symbol and overtook much of the conversation surrounding the show.

Speaking to Digital Spy, Purser pondered why the character has captured fan imagination so strongly, saying it was her outcast status.

“Everybody has felt different or weird, or like an outcast,” she told the site.

On whether the character could potentially return in season two, the actress added: “[It] would be so much fun. I am so grateful to the Stranger Things team and to the Duffer brothers. I think without that chance to play Barb, a lot of new opportunities would have been a lot harder to come by. I would love to somehow still be a part of that universe.”

A recurring role in Riverdale has followed Barb’s success on Stranger Things, and the actress was also honoured with a surprise Emmy nomination last week.

Purser said: “It’s amazing, I couldn’t have expected that at all. I knew that the show would do well because the script was so great, and all the cast were incredibly talented. But I didn’t quite know the show would become the phenomenon that it did.

“When people started paying attention to Barb, I was so surprised, because in a way she was just written to be a throwaway character. So it was really fascinating to see all these people who were angry and wanted justice for her. I appreciated it!”

And can we expect Ethel Muggs to return to Riverdale High when the show returns in the autumn? Purser indicated yes, and she also shared her thoughts on the potential inclusion of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as the show leans further into its own heightened reality.

“I haven’t heard anything official confirming it but I think it would be so cool,” she said. “I’m always interested in the supernatural and it would be so cool to have that element on the show and I’d be really interested to see who would play her.

“I actually haven’t seen any of the scripts yet, so I don’t really know what we’re in for.”

Stranger Things returns on 17 October.