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Stranger Things, Barb

Courtesy Netflix

Readers, we have a confession to make: We love to Google. And not just for occasions like wondering whether the episode of The Bachelor is new or if Zac Efron has ever worn jean shorts (spoiler alert: they're cutoffs). No, we prefer our Googling to come in the form of near-obsessive deep dives. If we're not scrolling back into an Internet black hole, it was a search worth doing. We know we're not alone in this, so instead of joining a support group we've decided to just share the wealth. In short, we're deep diving so that you don't have to.

This week, the topic taking over the world's collective eyes is, of course, Stranger Things. The Netflix series is everything binge watchers have been craving: Weird, creepy, impossible to look away from. When shows like this hit the scene, there are always a few things that fans seem to grab onto—funny or bizarre moments that are just made for obsessing over. In this case, it's Barb.

Oh, Barb. The very definition of the under-appreciated best friend. And by "under-appreciated," we mean (spoiler alert!) "dead." Her time on the show was but short-lived, allowing her the chance to fail at shotgunning a beer and then get sucked into an alien vortex. Yet somehow this brief appearance was special enough to spawn an interest that spread across the world. Everyone is obsessed with Barb; even those who don't get why everyone loves her are obsessed with making sure that everyone knows they don't like Barb. 

As such, she is just begging for a Google deep dive. Here's what we found. 

The real Barb does have real hair but looks nothing like her on-screen counterpart. Yes, you heard it here first: Barb is not actually Barb! She just plays her on TV. We know, we know. Her name is Shannon Purser, and you will basically not recognize her at all. And that's a compliment, by the way, because as much as we appreciate Barb's readiness to stand idly by at teen parties, her look is a little...dated. Shannon, for her part, prefers her ginger locks with a little less pincurl and her clothes with a little less doily.

sometimes I like my hair

A photo posted by Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) on

Her dad is just as awesome as Barb. In fact, we're pretty sure that Barb and Shannon's dad would actually have been the best of friends way back when. If that's not a Barb backpack, we don't know what is. 

Stranger Things was her very first role. Talk about the most bang for your buck on an IMDB listing. Most people with only a single line in their resumé are still struggling for their big break (or their big anything), but this is not that situation. Before taking to Netflix, Barb/Shannon was but a regular everyday high school student, focused on things like taking her senior pictures or working at the local Cineplex. (And yes, she's now quit the movie theater gig to move onto bigger and Barbier things.)

Everyone is really concerned about where Barb is. (Everyone out in the non-Stranger Things world, that is.) The fictional town on the show may be going about its business as if Barb never disappeared at all—to a frustrating degree—but the rest of America isn't ready to forget her fate so quickly. People in Charlotte, N.C., have even gone so far as to make missing posters. They will stop at nothing until the writers at Netflix give us some kind of justice and closure. 

We all know a Nancy or two, but most of us actually are Barb. Let's be honest, we may think we're Nancy's, but we're just kidding ourselves. Purser herself is a staunch proponent of Barb-ness, telling her Twitter followers earlier this summer "I'm very much like Barb in real life and I'm glad that others see themselves in her." Barb is actually sized like a normal human, her hair isn't always perfect, and she wears glasses that will ultimately prove to be very short-lived, trend-wise (yes, we're looking at you, hipster glasses wearers!). In fact, this feeling of resemblance even went so far as to spawn a Twitter movement earlier this summer, with users sharing old photos of themselves along with the line 'I am Barb.' She's even been immortalized as pizza. Bless.

The Internet has a theory about Barb. Reddit can be both a black hole of productivity, or a place to get serious answers to serious questions. If you have the time to filter through all the crazy, of course. We did just that, and came up with the following theory straight from none other than a member of the Stranger Things cast (which means it must be true). Glenellen Anderson, who plays Nicole (the mean girl), did her own AMA and exposed what she believes is the truth. "There were two redheads," she wrote. "One of 'em had to go. #SorryBarb." So there you have it: Answers, thanks to the depth of Google.