Little kids, particularly girls, are told at an early age that they are in charge of their bodies and they get to decide who is allowed to touch them. But then they are sent undermining messages from shows like this that people intruding on your personal space and repeatedly making unwanted advances are just funny and innocent and it’s okay that they make you uncomfortable because they don’t mean any harm. But there’s no comedy in people refusing to respect your bodily autonomy and your wishes.
Although this seems like a very sophisticated topic for a very simple show, this is one of the issues that girls pick up on without even realizing it. It’s easy to create a mental vision of the sinister, evil person who wants to abuse you, and the fun, laughing friend who is just joking around. But it doesn’t matter who does it or where it happens, when someone invades your space, refuses to stop coming onto you, or does something that makes you uncomfortable, they need to stop and your wishes need to be respected.
Barbie and Ken have been a couple for over 40 years. They seem perfectly happy together. But Raquelle is into Ken and Ryan is into Barbie and neither of them see their existing relationship or their complete disinterest in them as any kind of discouragement. Throughout the show, the pair keep trying to “steal” their desired mate away to comedic effect, impressing upon young girls that there’s an acceptable way to invade your space and make demands on you. But there isn’t.
In this episode, Stuck with You, Barbie and friends are enjoying a night in playing board games at the Dreamhouse. Barbie wins the first game and hyper-competitive Summer, who sounds like she would be impossible to get along with in real life, turns the entire table over in frustration. The group suggests playing another game and Ryan tries to reserve his spot as Barbie’s partner.
But Ken is there to tell him he has called Barbie’s partner not just for the next game, but for the rest of her life, apparently. Seemingly oblivious to the power struggle going on, Barbie says that she has one board game more upstairs that she wants to get. Ryan then volunteers to go upstairs with Barbie and retrieve the game as Ken hasn’t reserved the spot as her “handsome game-getting chaperon.”
Without agreeing to anything, Barbie gets onto the elevator and Ryan forces his way in. Barbie points out that they’re exceeding the one doll limit, but Ryan doesn’t care. He says, “Then we better stand super close,” invading more of Barbie’s space in the already confined elevator. The elevator then gets stuck.
Back in the game room, Summer is hyperactively playing with a paddle ball while bouncing a beach ball on her knee. She says that she wants to play another game and Ken suggests Charades. Back in the elevator, Barbie is looking over some of the buttons, trying to figure out how to get them out of the elevator. Keep in mind that the room where her friends are playing Charades is within earshot of the elevator. All they would have to do would be to call out for help.
Barbie finds that the elevator is equip with music, snow cones, and emergency makeup, but no help button. Just then, the elevator shakes and it’s revealed that the elevator is stuck about a foot and a half from the ground. All they would need to do is force the doors open, which Ryan already did, and step down to free themselves. But Barbie is determined to wait for Ken to solve all of her problems. She figured that her friends will notice that they’re gone and come and “rescue” them shortly.
In the game room, the group is playing Charades. Teresa guesses the incredibly long and bizarre statement, “Fall fashion sale at Malibu Mall but they’re all sold out of the cool boots in your size”. Amazed, it’s now the other team’s turn. Raquelle, who is clearly bored with all of this, selects a card and then reads “high heels”. When Nikki points out that that’s not how you play the game Raquelle retorts, “That’s how I play.” Midge then tries to play, but she doesn’t have fully articulated fingers and it leaves her at a disadvantage.
Back in the elevator, Blissa, the Dreamhouse’s fluffy white cat, has come across Barbie and Ryan, and starts rocking the elevator. As Barbie looks through a control panel stuffed with random objects, Ryan freaks out and says that he’s going to die before he ever lived and confesses his love… to himself.
Back in the game room, everyone is fighting and demanding that Ken solve all of their various problems (Raquelle isn’t playing fair, Midge isn’t fully articulated, etc.). Then Ken notices that Barbie’s been gone for quite a while. Suddenly, Midge tells them to listen and they quiet down where they hear a high-pitched scream. They realize that it’s Ryan.
Ken pulls the elevator doors open and “rescues” Barbie from a situation that she could have easily solved herself. She calls Ken her hero as he holds her into his arms. The game of Charades back on, Ken says that he has to go to the bathroom and exits the room, with Raquelle hot on his heels. He gets into the elevator and Raquelle squeezes through the already closed doors. Ken again points out the one-doll weight limit and when the elevator creaks to a stop, he exclaims, “Oh no! We’re stuck!” Raquelle then throws her arms around his neck in delight and responds, “Yes, we are!” Ken screams and the episode ends.
In this episode both Barbie and Ken had people making advances toward them, fully knowing that they’re in a long-term committed relationship, and not interested in their pursuers. They also had their personal space invaded when the doll makes it clear that the invasion of their space is unwanted and not even good for the elevator that they’re riding in. The intrusion and unwanted advances are laughed off with humor and not taken for the serious invasion of privacy and personal space that they are.
Neither Ken nor Barbie seems confident enough to firmly tell either Ryan or Raquelle that they’re not interested. Although they’re not clear about their feelings, it should be obvious to anyone who has a normal amount of social experience that someone is not interested in you when they give you no positive feedback and continue to date someone else. With no reason for either Ryan or Raquelle to continue pursuing Barbie and Ken, respectively, it leaves little to wonder if the two have some kind of personality disorder that causes them to project emotions onto other people and pursue them despite a complete lack of interest.
To read all of the Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse articles, click here.