Barbie: life in the dreamhouse isnt a nightmare – netflakes
Hungover on New Year’s Day, watching cartoons with my best friend’s toddler. She picked Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures, a franchise I have no nostalgic connection to. I was never really into dolls, and Strawberry Shortcake’s вЂ80s run was a bit before my time. I very quickly realized that the Strawberry Shortcake series is awful. The animation is bland. The writing is worse. The characters are boring and the only thing different between them is their hair colour and which berry they most strongly identify with, apparently. It wasn’t long before I wanted to gouge my eyes out and shove them into my ears, but my toddler companion didn’t seem to notice how asinine her program was. Fine.
After an episode of Strawberry Shortcake, my friend changed it to Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse. At this point I was trying to figure out how I could feign sickness and leave altogether. My experience with Barbies as a kid mostly consisted of using Kleenex to design new clothes for them, and seeing 800 commercials for as many different Barbie products between Saturday morning cartoons. But it turns out that Mattel’s cartoon about dolls is actually watchable.В It’s so watchable that I may have watched it alone, at my own home, no toddlers in sight. Maybe.
Here are some reasons why you could do worse than watching Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse with a toddler pal (or not).
It breaks the fourth wall
I assumed that a show about Barbie would be gross because it would try to influence what kidsВ demand from their parents. I realized two things: 1) every single children’s show does that; and 2) Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse is aware of that, and satirizes it.В Barbie’s house is constructed like the actual toy dream house, with counters that flip around to reveal absolutely anything the characters could need, and a pump for the shower (just like the real Barbie Dreamhouse toy). Barbie has every branded gadget under the sun, and in the episode about her birthday, her friends lament that there’s nothing they can get her because she has it all. Her friends and sisters tease her about having it all, but Barbie remains believably gracious and generous. Barbie is even consistently kind to her goth frenemy Raquelle, who is constantly trying to steal Barbie’s spotlight.
Barbie’s 150+ careers over her life come up over and over again, and Barbie frequently forgets that she’s been a professional everything-under-the-sun.В In the birthday episode when they’re trying to figure out how old Barbie is, her friends explain that because she was president, she has to be over 35, and because she was a doctor, she has to have gone to university for 11+ years. They never learn her age, but in another episode, her black-and-white Pleasantville-esque bestie from back home in Wisconsin turns up (bringing a laughtrack with her that the sisters keep pointing out). She’s amazed that Barbie is a fully-articulated doll, because she can only bend at the waist. In fact, a lot of the humour comes from the fact that they’re actually plastic dolls. Which brings me to the next pro on the list…
TheВ animation is very good
Because they’re not cheapening out on animation, the show derives a lot of its humour from wacky expressions and slapstick. A lot about this show reminds me of the humour in The Sims games, and the slapstick is a big part of that.В Sometimes slapstick in cartoons is just a replacement for decent writing, but inВ Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, it just augments the humour. Unlike Strawberry Shortcake, the animation is so good that the expressive faces the dolls make really sell it.
There are a lot of for-the-grownupsВ references
So far I’ve caught references to Star Wars, The Godfather, Indiana Jones, Jaws, Planet of the Apes, and even The Simpsons.