While Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” live-action remake captivates audiences through its shiny and perfectly pink trailer, “Saturday Night Live” is putting a spotlight on the less glamorous, overburdened world of the American Girl Doll — disease, death, unpleasant history and all.
“People can’t stop talking about the trailer for the new ‘Barbie’ movie, but not all dolls live in a dream house,” the narrator says in the sketch’s opening. “Some are bigger, younger, sadder; some dolls are American Girls.”
As the trailer for the historically accurate flick introduces its struggling heroines, each sob story is worse than the other, from Samantha (Chloe Fineman) watching her parents die on a boat to Molly’s (Molly Kearney) father’s being a prisoner of war. The other dolls exchange nervous glances when Addy (Ego Nwodim), the only Black American Girl Doll, shares her own story: “That’s okay, I don’t know my birthday because I’m a runaway slave.”
“Do they have pink Corvettes? Nope. Or boyfriends? No way,” the narrator continues as the girls play in the only way they know, by scrubbing the floors and churning some butter. “Did all their family members die of vague old timey diseases? Absolutely.”
Despite their best efforts to have some fun — including a fashion show full of petticoats and the tea party of our nightmares — glimmers from the girls’ dark past resurface, with Josefina (Ana de Armas) saying, “the memory of my mama is slipping away,” while Kit (Sarah Sherman) coughs up blood before swiftly dying.
“These little girls are going through too much,” a review from the New York Times reads of the tonally mixed flick.
As the American Girls embark on a journey from American Girl Land into the Modern World, the dolls set their sights on some very lofty goals.
“I’m going to stop World War II,” Molly exclaims while Josefina adds, “and I’m going to stop the Spanish American War!”
“I’m going to end cholera,” Kirsten (Heidi Gardner) declares before coming to an untimely demise herself.
You can watch the full clip above.