Analysis: Barbie-Life in the Dreamhouse

Analysis: Barbie-Life in the Dreamhouse

Life in the Dreamhouse

Theme song lyrics-forever friends, forever sun, forever Ken, forever young. Boyfriend and youth are important.

First episode observations-Barbie is incredibly wealthy and has a lot of shoes.


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Midge is kind of dorky and not as fashion-obsessed (she said if she wore Barbie’s fancy shoes, she would get bunions.

Closet is a house robot-can see, can bring things, and has terrific fashion sense. Teresa is her friend who is going to have a fashion show. It looks like she is not so bright (she is asked: “Did you forget how zippers work again?”)

 

Raquelle is a frenemy who wants to ruin the fashion show. I think she is a model and wants Barbie to miss the show so Raquelle can model instead. Why not just ask to be in the show?

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Fortunately for Raquelle, the closet robot can become evil at the flip of a switch. No, literally. There is a switch, cleverly concealed behind a beautiful mirror. Even though Raquelle doesn’t seem to be a good friend, she knows where the switch is. She flipped it and now the robot is evil. This robot powers the whole house, so all doors and windows are sealed. Raquelle even gets trapped in another part of the house! But Barbie assures her friends that Ken will save them all! Whew.

Ken has a Barbie-sense that tingles to let him know that Barbie is in trouble. Poor Barbie. Ken is script in such a way to let viewers assume that the robot is not the only one in the closet!

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Closet wants fashion domination. Everyone is scurrying for ways to escape. Ken is trying to find a way in.

They find a way to get out (by destroying the house). Fortunately Ken has a new dream house suitcase that opens into a full house with the push of a button!  And Barbie and friends rush away to go save the fashion show!

I am not quite sure what to say about this one. I was asked to add it because preschoolers watch it. But it is not intended for preschoolers. Common Sense Media suggests the viewing age is seven years or older. Last week, I reviewed Animal Mechanicals. Suggested age for that program is 3 or older. Life in a Dreamhouse makes references to Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Barbie’s history, things that a preschooler is not likely to pick up. There aren’t really lessons embedded. Nothing to suggest it is a preschool show.

However, I watched it and I kind of think it is awful.

The show is extremely materialistic for one thing (all those shoes!). When Barbie’s house is destroyed, she is able to look at the rubble and not even grieve, just run off to the fashion show. Losing one’s house to a disaster is considered the third most stressful event in a person’s life, behind death of a significant other and going to jail.  However, Barbie is able to brush it off without even a comment about how sad she is.

I know they are dolls, but the characters are so one dimensional! When Barbie and friends were stuck in the washing machine. Barbie said something like, “I just remembered, I worked as an electrical engineer once!” and went up to turn off the machine by getting into its main motor. It is a funny little line, meant to make us chuckle because Barbie has had so many jobs. But it fell flat for me. Being an engineer does not mean you can open a panel and immediately know how to fix something! This is presumably a show for girls and they missed an excellent opportunity to push STEM in a realistic way.

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Finally, there are no healthy male-female relationships on the show. Barbie has female friends and she will do a lot for them.

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But the men are just there giving. There are only two male dolls: Ken and Raquelle’s brother, Justin. They are in a rivalry to impress Barbie and will do anything. Barbie calls Ken when she needs something and ignores Justin altogether. Neither of these relationships serve as role models. Justin’s behavior is into red flag territory-he is willing to sabotage the fashion show in order to upset Barbie so she will come crying to him. He also has a large collection of life-size cut-outs of himself. Not healthy.

There are many other Barbie shows out there, and maybe they are better. But this one is just not good.

Even though it is not technically a preschool show, I watched it on recommendation of a mom of a preschooler, so I am going to add it to my tally.

While this show does have a female lead, and does have a female adult lead (YAY!), I can’t really say it has a positive message for girls. There are some positive messages in it, but overall it feels like it is more for entertainment than anything.

TALLY SHEET

Count today- 1 show
Count total- 10 shows
Shows with male lead- 6
Shows with female lead- 4
Shows with a positive message for girls, starring a female lead-2

New categories:

Shows that have a male adult lead-5
Shows that have a female adult lead-1

2 Comments

  • “Female adult lead” – I’m not so sure about that. I feel like Barbie is really childish, with her air-headedness and focus on fashion and boyfriends above all else. She is so one-dimensional, as an adult role model she’s just about the worst. And her “jobs” are always pretty much over simplified – look, she has a stethoscope and lab coat, she’s a doctor now! Thanks for taking the bullet for the rest of us and watching this drivel! 🙂


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