Op-Ed: Margot Robbie’s ‘Barbie’ Ripped off the Best ‘Saturday Night Live’ Sketch in Years

in Movies, Television

Barbie SNL Donald Glover

Credit: NBC

Barbie might be the most breathlessly hyped movie in recent memory, with Warner Bros and Mattel unleashing a massive promotional push that is turning everything from park benches to Burger King to your Google searches as pink as possible.

barbie margot robbie
Credit: Warner Bros

It’s working. Barbie is already critically acclaimed and might become Warner Bros’ biggest blockbuster of the year (and it really needs one, after the disaster of The Flash). Director Greta Gerwig, co-writer Noah Baumbach, and star Margot Robbie are all being discussed as likely Academy Award nominees.

However, I’m here to throw some cold water on Barbie and say it simply: Saturday Night Live did it first and did it better.

Barbie SNL Kenan Thompson Donald Glover Cecily Strong Pete Davidson Heidi Gardner
Credit: NBC

Related: The ‘Barbie’ Soundtrack Playlist on Spotify is Longer Than the Movie

The Barbie movie has been in development for years, because studio executives have never seen a recognizable IP that couldn’t be monetized in some way, but Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s take seems to be a more metafictional, introspective take on the idea of the iconic American doll.

Barbie realizes she’s a toy? She grapples with the nature of her existence? Gender roles are blurred, and there’s a darker tone than anyone could have expected?

Well, everyone who watched the May 5, 2018, episode of Saturday Night Live with guest host Donald Glover could expect it because Barbie ripped off its best sketch.

The sketch, fittingly titled “Barbie Instagram,” was written by SNL writer Julio Torres (also of the late and lamented HBO series Los Espookys) and stars Donald Glover, Pete Davidson, and Heidi Gardner as Mattel interns tasked by executives Kenan Thompson and Cecily Strong with coming up with some fun captions for Barbie’s social media.

Fun, right? As you could guess, Pete Davidson and Heidi Gardner say some dumb, kinda-funny things about Barbie while Kenan Thompson and Cecily Strong get frustrated. Pretty standard SNL stuff.

Barbie SNL Cecily Strong Keenan Thompson
Credit: NBC

Then it gets weird.

Donald Glover’s weirdly stiff intern begins describing Barbie’s thoughts in a clipped tone, revealing that (in his mind) she can’t shake seeing a girl hit by a car outside of her Dream House® (the kind that Margot Robbie demanded) four years ago and has become trapped in an existential crisis. Donald says:

“Hey, I’m so sorry to do this but I won’t be able to come to the party. I just can’t. I got all dressed up but I just can’t shake this funk I’m in. I’m freaking out. I’m back to thinking about that girl from four years ago. I know it sounds crazy but I think she was trying to tell me something. I’m sorry. I’m stuck.”

Everyone seems taken aback, especially as Donald continues:

“I overheard a woman at the supermarket say the strangest thing. She said, ‘There goes Barbie. Poor thing. She doesn’t know she’s a toy created by a corporation. Silly thing has never wondered where the car or the house came from.’ And the truth is I never thought of those things until today. Today is the first and very last day of my life.”

It just gets darker from there, but I’ll let you see for yourself:

The connections between Julio Torres’ version of Barbie and the version embodied by Margot Robbie are clear. Both dolls are shaken to find that Barbie Land is not what they have always considered it to be; both become aware of the artificial nature of their reality; both yearn for some kind of freedom that eludes them.

Related: Think Pink: ‘Barbie’ Brings Color Back to Movie-Making

Perhaps there was some draft of Julio Torres’ “Barbie Instagram” in which the iconic doll was played by everyone from Kate McKinnon to Gal Gadot to Dua Lipa to Issa Rae, and SNL alumnus Will Ferrell popped in for a cameo as the CEO of Mattel. Perhaps not.

But before you go to see Barbie in theaters and at the Oscars months from now, just remember: “There goes Barbie. Poor thing. She doesn’t know she’s a toy created by a corporation.”

Are the similarities between this SNL sketch and Barbie too close for comfort? Let us know in the comments below!

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