Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ looks gloriously gay

Scott Evans, Hari Nef, Kate McKinnon
Scott Evans, Hari Nef, Kate McKinnon Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Today, Warner Bros. released new official character posters for director Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie, along with a second teaser trailer for the film. And readers, they are gloriously, glitteringly gay.

Details about the plot of the Academy Award-nominated Ladybird director’s Mattel-endorsed take on the iconic doll remain sparse. According to one official logline, the film follows Margot Robbie’s blonde bombshell Barbie on her quest to find true happiness in the human world after being expelled from “Barbie Land” for being less-than-perfect. Another implies that the film finds Robbie’s character in “a full-on existential crisis.”

One thing confirmed by both the new teaser and the promo images: Robbie isn’t the only Barbie in this campy flick. Everyone from Issa Rae to Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan seems to be playing a different variation on the character, while Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ncuti Gatwa, and Scott Evans play versions of Ken alongside Ryan Gosling.

The film’s cast also includes some notable out performers taking on the Barbie and Ken roles. Evans, of course, is the gay brother of straight Captain America star Chris Evan.

Saturday Night Live alum Kate McKinnon, meanwhile, plays a version of Barbie that looks like she’s seen better days. You know how there’s always one doll that falls victim to some kid’s very human and irresistible urge to cut its hair? Looks like that’s McKinnon’s character, who is described on her character poster as “always in the splits.”

Out Love, Simon star Alexandra Shipp also portrays a Barbie who is “a celebrated author.” How much do you want to bet her books have been banned from school libraries?

And trans actress Hari Nef appears in the film as Dr. Barbie—who we can only assume is a crusader for access to gender-affirming healthcare, right? (Mattel notably released a special edition trans Barbie doll last year modeled on trailblazing trans actress Laverne Cox.)

Nef shared her character poster on Instagram on Tuesday, writing in the caption that Gerwig and company adjusted their filming schedule so that she could participate. She also shared part of the heartfelt letter she sent both Gerwig and Robbie describing what it meant to her to be in the film.

“Identity politics and cinema aren’t my favorite combination,” she wrote, “but the name BARBIE looms large over every American woman. Barbie’s the standard; she’s The Girl; she’s certainly THE doll. Me and my girlfriends–okay, yeah, me and my other transgender girlfriends– we started calling ourselves ‘the dolls’ a couple of years ago, though the phrase stretches back into the language of our foremothers in the ballroom scene.”

“‘The Dolls.’ Maybe it’s a bid to ratify our femininity, to smile and sneer at the standards we’re held to as women. It’s a joke, of course; we throw our voices: ‘the do-o-lls!’ But underneath the word ‘doll’ is the shape of a woman who is not quite a woman–recognizable as such, but still a fake. ‘Doll’ is fraught, glamorous; she is, and she isn’t. We call ourselves ‘the dolls’ in the face of everything we know we are, never will be, hope to be. We yell the word because the word matters. And no doll matters more than Barbie.”

But Barbie’s cast and general over-the-top camp aesthetic aren’t the only reasons to suspect this movie may have a decidedly queer sensibility.

Exhibit A: Gerwig and co. cast pop star Dua Lipa to play a mermaid Barbie, and if you need someone to explain how gay that is…what are you even doing on this website?

Exhibit B: Will Ferrell’s character poster includes the line “Please call me mother.” It remains to be seen what the Anchorman star’s toy exec. character will do to earn the term of LGBTQ+ endearment.

Exhibit C: Dame Helen Mirren provides the film’s narration. Helen Mirren basically is mother.

Exhibit D (no pun): The new teaser ends with a very suggestive scene on Barbie Land’s Pepto-pink beach in which Gosling’s Ken furiously tells Liu’s Ken that he would “beach you off,” leading Liu’s Ken to promise to “beach off” both Gosling and Ben-Adir’s characters.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie hits theaters July 2.

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