Department of Energy Wants ‘Justice for Barb’

Emails reveal federal agency’s reaction to ‘sinister’ but ‘awesome’ portrayal in Netflix hit ‘Stranger Things’

Stranger Things

The Department of Energy is featured prominently in the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, and like many of the show’s fans, the agency is not happy about the fate of one tertiary character.

DOE’s press office wants "Justice for Barb," it said on Thursday, referring to the character whose death at the hands of the demonic spawn of a parallel universe known as "the Upside Down" is virtually ignored by every other character in the show.

The agency was responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Washington Free Beacon revealing its internal discussions about Stranger Things after its July release.

Those discussions culminated in a blog post that pointed out where "the show’s portrayal of the Energy Department was a little less than accurate."

Stranger Things does not present the U.S. Department of Energy in the most favorable light—villains are headquartered at a Department of Energy lab in Hawkins, Indiana, and are presented, as one DOE staffer put it, in a "sinister (but awesome)" light—but the show did come close to reality at times, according to some of the emails.

The agency does "make weapons" and it has conducted human experiments, noted a heavily redacted email from agency employee John Larue. "There is some really eyebrow-raising stuff in the history of the atomic energy commission," Larue noted.

According to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, agency scientists could even be looking for the Upside Down—or, at least, some sort of parallel universe.

"It’s not true that ‘the Energy Department doesn’t explore parallel universes,’" Moniz wrote to a public affairs staffer working on the blog post. "We support theoretical physicists/cosmologists through the Office of Science High Energy Physics program, some of whom almost certainly are doing a fair amount of research on parallel universes."

Though Stranger Things offered an opportunity to explore the DOE’s more exotic activities, internal discussions of the show had the unfortunate side-effect of spoiling it for some of the agency’s press staffers.

"DO NOT SPOIL THIS FOR ME," one demanded. "I was going to watch it this week. The blog already killed part of it for me."

But it was too late. "The blog straight up ruined it," another replied. "You’re already screwed."

Energy Department discusses Stranger Things by Lachlan Markay on Scribd