Britney Spears and Amy Poehler Deconstructed Barbie Years Ago on ‘SNL’
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is expected to open to boffo box office this weekend, even as it “deconstructs the feminist iconography of Barbie and recontextualizes her for a new generation.” Barbie questioning the nature of her existence in Barbieland? We’re here for it but it’s by no means the first piece of entertainment to poke at the doll’s hypocrisies and anachronistic baggage. The Simpsons went there with Malibu Stacy, Robot Chicken had a field day, and in 2002, Amy Poehler and Britney Spears reimagined the reality of Barbie on Saturday Night Live.
What happens when Barbie (Poehler) hits 40? Like the character in the Barbie movie, the thoughtful doll reexamines her life. “I’m 43,” she confesses to Skipper (Spears). “At some point, a glow-in-the-dark, crystal-bejeweled butterfly tiara is just a little ridiculous.”
But Barbie isn’t the only one growing older. Younger doll Skipper wants the keys to the ‘Vette — she’s going out to a pajama party. “Not dressed like that you’re not,” says Barbie, acting the part of the protective older sister. She’s concerned that the party will be crashed by unsavory action figures — X-Men, Rescue Heroes, Ultimate Soldiers. Forget it — she forbids Skipper from going.
“Barbie, you’re not the boss of me!” cries Skipper.
And then, the sketch gets darker. “I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made,” Barbie counters.
“I’m nothing like you!”
“You’re just like me, Skipper,” Barbie confesses, finally injecting some real-world reality into Barbie’s Dreamhouse. “You’re my daughter!”
Skipper’s world is shattered. How can her sophisticated older sister be her mother? Barbie’s previous explanation — their mother died in an Easy-Bake Oven accident — was all a lie. So does that make Ken Skipper’s father? Oh, no no no no no. When we eventually see Chris Kattan’s bitchy Ken character, no further explanation is needed.
The true baby daddy? A Han Solo action figure. Skipper is horrified at the revelation. “He’s not even our scale! What kind of slut are you?”
Barbie is crushed, especially after all the jobs she’s held down to take care of Skipper: Teacher, ballerina, astronaut, princess, competitive skater, business lady. The two reconcile and discuss Barbie’s “sisters” (who are actually the result of her three-way with some Power Rangers).
You’d think Mattel would take issue with this Barbie’s plastic promiscuity, but apparently, the toymaker was cool with Poehler’s polyamorous parody. A few years later, Poehler launched her Smart Girls at the Party web series with Barbie as the show’s main sponsor. Despite Margot Robbie being nervous that Mattel would only want its product portrayed in a favorable light, the corporate overlords seem to have a sense of humor after all.