Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse is a computer animated show with all of its episodes available on YouTube. A select few aired on TV and some “best of” collections are available on Netflix. The show is now in its 5th season. The first 4 focused on short 3-3.5 minute episodes. The 5th season featured two specials that were 11 minutes long each. Although the show does have some good points, something I can’t say about anything I’ve reviewed so far, the show is far from being something that will encourage girls to reach their potential and becoming fully-realized adults.
But since I have good points to talk about, for once, I’m going to start with those. First of all, the show is not as painfully bland and humorless as some of the other shows I’ve seen. That’s right, I’m going to count the show not making me want to drink bleach after finishing it as a plus. But to be honest, the show isn’t badly written. There actually are some funny elements to it and the running gags work, for the most part. I’ll get to Schlond Poofas in a minute. The show clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is refreshing.
The actual animation is very well done. The characters look clean and crisp. Unlike some of the Bratz movies, these dolls move and act naturally and even their dancing looks alright. The show is very visually appealing, for the most part. The settings are bright and inviting and the landscapes are actually rather pretty. Also, the set up is that the characters are all dolls and they are in a type of reality TV show, which strangely works. The diary room confessions are pretty interesting to watch and makes the format rather enjoyable.
But that’s all of the nice things I have to say about this series. The show still shows women and girls as hyper-feminine with everyone trapped in the same gender roles that no one should be still abiding by. Barbie and her sisters have no interaction with their parents at all. While Barbie is supposed to be an adult (they make a joke out of her age), the show never gets into who is looking after Skipper, Chelsea and Stacie, Barbie’s three little sisters that live with her in Malibu in her Dreamhouse. All the girls, even Chelsea, who turns 6 in season 1, are functioning on their own. Skipper, who mentions high school, is never seen going there or ever doing school work, like both of her underage sisters.
But while Barbie gets herself into ridiculous situations, Ken is always there with his “Barbie sense” to rescue her. While it’s usually the female characters who don’t fare well in these shows, Ken isn’t exactly a fully-rounded, completely realized person either. In fact, much of his identity, free time and interests seem to revolve around his girlfriend. Of course, Barbie probably wouldn’t find her in all of these situations requiring rescue if she actually had any of the abilities and talents that she allegedly did during her various “careers”.
This amnesia when it comes to doing anything helpful is one of the reasons why the shows become very bizarre to the point of being surreal. Some of the episodes don’t make any sense in a way that Aqua Teen Hunger Force and other Adult Swim shows have managed. Does this help the show? Does it make it something more than a frilly entertainment block for kids? We’ll have to see.
And while the animation on the show is excellent and it doesn’t look like an animation project for a freshman art degree class, it does start to strain the eyes eventually with the sheer amount of pink that the show uses. Just about everything in the entire show is pink. The clothes, the Dreamhouse itself, the accessories, the food, the appliances and cars, everything. There are so many different shades of pink used that it almost seems like your eyes have developed new color-receptive cones and you’re now seeing pinks that had previously not been invented.
Over the next few days I’ll be taking a closer look at Barbie and her life in this Dreamhouse. Some of it will be good, but most of it will be a feminist take down of a character who has almost always been seen as problematic for young girls. Strap yourselves in, kids! It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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