Netflix's 'Sierra Burgess is a Loser' is not "justice for Barb"
Netflix's upcoming rom-com, 'Sierra Burgess is a Loser' stars 'Stranger Things' Barb as its lead; but even a full movie later, we are yet to receive #justiceforBarb. Here's why.
Looks like Netflix has seriously mastered the classic good old romantic comedies. With its recent burst of such movies like 'The Kissing Booth' and the very widely acclaimed 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' - Netflix has gradually established a firm grounding of allowing viewers to reminisce about the days of John Hughes holding a giant stereo outside the girl's window, and Heath Ledger falling in love with the girl after literally getting paid to take her out on a date.
With its current surge of such classic films, you'd expect Netflix to be a little bit more sensitive about teenage romcoms especially when a cast member of one such upcoming film was also in one of the most popular shows on the Network.
Yes, the film in question in Netflix's upcoming original, 'Siera Burgess is a Loser' - where playing the lead will be our very own Barb from 'Stranger Things.' So riddle me this, Netflix: Was it that necessary to turn our favorite Barb into the seemingly childish, vapid, male-validation seeking Sierra Burgess who goes to the extent of catfishing just for a guy?
Now, I and several other fans are beyond elated that with Sierra Burgess, our dear Barb - whose tale in 'Stranger Things' ended unfished and abruptly - might finally get justice, but when we were demanding justice for our girl, this isn't what we had in mind.
First things first, Barb (played by Shannon Purser) was a pretty badass character, okay? She didn't feel the need to be roped into the teen-dream norms of fitting into a certain criterion just to attract the male gaze. She was, in fact, the friend - the guiding beacon of hope - that tells you it's okay, you don't need to have a man on your arm to feel validated. She did that for Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) on the first season of 'Stranger Things,' telling her that changing herself - or doing certain things - just for the approval of Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and all the other 'cool kids' wasn't necessary.
And after all that iconic feminist potential, including the bit where despite disapproving of Nancy's changing preferences in terms of 'cool stuff to do,' she ends up accompanying her to said cool stuff, just because she's a good friend, the showrunners felt like it was an okay thing to just kill her right at the moment.
That was one such TV show moment that blew up to be a social media phenomenon, with several memes and fun posts appearing out of the blue, demanding justice for a character that was killed off in the very initial stages of the show. Soon there would be Twitter trends demanding "justice for Barb" and countless tweets about how she should have lived on the show longer. So you see, when Netflix released the first trailer for 'Sierra Burgess is a Loser,' fans had high hopes.
Now, 'Sierra Burgess is a Loser' (SBIAL) and 'Stranger Things' are related in no way, with the exception of a shared cast member - Shannon Purser. But still, when the trailer for 'SBIAL' arrived, hopeful fans thought "Wow, Barb has transcended into another Netflix original, and finally our girl is getting the screen space she has always deserved!"
But is she though? I mean - don't get me wrong - I get that these are two entirely different characters and I shouldn't have even held on to any hope about Sierra being anything like Barb. They are set in two completely different timelines, cities, plots, and all that jazz.
But then Netflix did the thing where they raise your hopes up by making Sierra seem so much similar to Barb. Sierra doesn't care what other people say about her appearance or body. She has far more important things to care about - like grades, school, graduation, college, a successful career in what she loves and so much more.
Somehow that takes me back to 1970's Hawkins, Indiana, where another fictional character called Barb just wanted to do the things she liked without giving a damn about what others had to say of her.
So when we thought Shannon Purser was going to reprise her work with Netflix - be it on a whole different project - we kinda expected that her new character, much along the lines of her old one, wouldn't feel the need to catfish a boy just because she is insecure of her appearance. What more? Sierra teams up with the Queen Bee at her school to pass off her photos as her own, just so she can win this boy over. Like - really? That does NOT seem like what Barb would do. This is NOT the justice we wanted for Barb.
I mean, it's great that Shannon is taking up a variety of roles with different priorities and set of ideas about how to go about things, but there was so much more that could have been explored instead of labeling this catfishing story as justice for Barb. How about Sierra Burgess doesn't text the boy back when she learns it's the Queen Bee he has in mind while speaking to her? How about instead of setting up a Skype date with said Queen Bee, she went on to give him a piece of her mind for just randomly texting her out of the blue, without any prior acquaintance at all?
But no, this is a rom-com, and we know the story wouldn't have gone on if Sierra wasn't your stereotypical teenager with set goals, but also secretly craving male attention and a cutesy romance. So we'll just have to make do with the fact that Shannon is going to be on a Netflix original again, but sadly - despite being the lead character around whom the tale revolves - Barb hasn't been provided her justice yet.
However, the film in no way undermines the great work Shannon did as Barb or the work she has done as Sierra. True, her characters so far - on both the Netflix originals as well as CW's 'Riverdale' - might have seemed quite similar, as her being the quiet, shy nerd with goals, but at the same time her role Sierra goes to extreme limits just to earn the affection of a boy she has fallen for, and that's what counts as an actor branching out, right? So good for her.
But it just saddens me how the public eye took one look at the trailer and decided to brand it as justice for Barb having been served. I mean, really? Barb is beyond all of those childish games. Other than the righteousness in their personalities, there's no point in comparing the two characters with each other because Barb is such a win-win right away.
Maybe if she had lived longer on 'Stranger Things' she would have fallen for some cute guy eventually and done something crazy, but for heaven's sake - she wouldn't have resorted to a petty high school scheme which has had massive mockery made out of in terms of an MTV reality show.
So may Netflix hear us this once loud and clear: We do not accept 'Sierra Burgess is a Loser' as #justiceforBarb in any manner. Our girl Barb deserves better, and we're counting on you to do better!