OK, Netflix. Let’s talk.
Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse was originally a video series on Barbie’s YouTube channel, consisting of 3 minute faux-reality-series shorts about Barbie’s everyday glamorous life. Now, it’s a series of collections on Netflix, with the episodes assembled out of order in Best Of packages, and the videos have since been removed from the Barbie channel in America. Yes, its great that this is on Netflix (I never would have watched it if a video game store clerk hadn’t alerted me to its presence on Netflix, where he had seen it). But, taking it off YouTube? Boooo.
It’s tragic, because Life in the Dreamhouse is a classic series in a semi-satirical vein akin to Bring it On. Styled as a faux-reality-show, Barbie is a celebutante living in her Dreamhouse in Malibu with her 3 younger sisters. She’s dating Ken, has multiple best friends, and even has a pair of frenemy siblings who want to break Ken and Barbie (if only so the frenemies can date them). While that sounds rote, the episodes push the levels of Barbie-styled girl-themed commercialism to its most extreme senses. On the one hand, Life in the Dreamhouse is an indulgence of all the materialism that Barbie represents, and on the flip side it is also mocking said indulgences.
One such example is the perpetual story of Barbie’s closet, which has grown to take up acres and acres and now has little coffee shops, deserts, and hot tubs. In a way, it’s the House of Leaves of closets. The picture used above is from an epic journey looking for a particular barrette that lasts for days. To help, Ken installs a robotic HAL-esque closet robot that has an evil switch (sample Closet dialogue: “I’m not heartless. These girls may have deplorable fashion sense, but I’m not going to let them starve.”). In it, Barbie frequently finds her old career clothes packaged in their original blister packs (“My flight attendant uniform. That was my 32nd favorite career!”).
Like the most satirical cartoons, Life in the Dreamhouse is extremely indulgent in its pop culture references. A glitter shortage inspires references to Scarface and The Godfather, while the opening episode references Star Wars and Star Trek. But, what is this bundle of hyper-active episodes for? Is it good stoner comedy? Is it a great girl power series that says that women can be powerful and feminine? Is laughing at the indulgences akin to mocking women, or is it merely mocking the ridiculous concept of ultra-rich ultra-fashionable ultra-feminine fashion-obsessed Barbie?
In any of those cases, Life in the Dreamhouse is fitfully hilarious depending on your sense of humor. I had a friend who said when he saw Bring it On with his younger sister, he totally didn’t get the movie because she was watching a completely different movie than I was. When he watched it with me, he spotted the satire immediately and fell in love. Sample it yourself. It’s short enough to know if it will be to your taste, and its perfect for your ADD-ness.
But, it should be left on YouTube as well!