For weeks now — nay, months — I have been unable to sleep. As war rages in Europe and the global economy nosedives around us, my mind is harrowed, my thoughts a mess. I have but one preoccupation: What on earth is the plot for the upcoming Barbie movie going to look like?
Every new detail that emerges about this unhinged production obsesses me.
In April, when the first picture of producer and star Margot Robbie all dolled up (lol) and riding in Barbie’s iconic pink convertible was released, I gasped at a pitch only gay men could hear.
Then, last week, Warner Bros. decided to celebrate Pride Month by releasing the first image of Ryan Gosling as Ken, and my life has not been the same since.
It’s hard to adequately describe just how camp this picture is, but please know that I immediately made it the background on my phone (for research purposes only). The platinum-blond hair. The bleached denim. The tanned abs. The oversaturated pink. He looks like Marky Mark if he were a BelAmi model. (Google it — in private browser mode.)
Just as I’m barely recovering, paparazzi shots have emerged this week showing Robbie and Gosling on set in Los Angeles wearing sexy Western outfits and looking like Kacey Musgraves and Orville Peck leading a Pride parade.
All this naturally leaves us with the obvious question: What the hell is this movie about?!
There’s a lot we don’t know. For a while, the only plot tease available online read, simply, “Barbie lives in Barbie Land and then a story happens.” (??? How very dare???)
Here’s what we do know.
First, Barbie is being directed by Greta Gerwig. Yes, indie wunderkind turned Oscar-nominated director Greta THEE Gerwig. With Gerwig having written and directed Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019), both of which subverted coming-of-age stories about women and featured Academy Award–nominated performances, it’s safe to say whatever she’s planning is keeping Mattel executives up at night.
Robbie herself knows what a mindfuck this is. She told British Vogue last year, “People generally hear ‘Barbie’ and think, ‘I know what that movie is going to be,’ and then they hear that Greta Gerwig is writing and directing it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, well, maybe I don’t.’”
(She’s talking about me. I’m people.)
Second, Gerwig wrote the screenplay with partner Noah Baumbach, another indie darling, who is most famous for his Oscar-nominated films The Squid and the Whale (2005) and Marriage Story (2019). Quirky, melancholy divorce story CONFIRMED!
Third, the cast is absolutely stacked — like, to a comical degree. Here are just a FEW of the actors who are confirmed: Will Ferrell, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, America Ferrera, Michael Cera, Rhea Perlman, soap opera star (and Chris Evans’ brother) Scott Evans, Hari Nef, The Crown star and Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell, soon-to-be Doctor Who star Ncuti Gatwa, and Gatwa’s Sex Education costars Emma Mackey and Connor Swindells. We also have good reason to suspect Bridgerton and Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan will be appearing, as well as Dua Lipa (?!) and previous Gerwig collaborator Saoirse Ronan.
Fourth, the screenplay is supposed to be incredible. Like, drop-your-other-projects-and-get-the-fuck-on-board incredible. Marvel star Liu told GQ UK in May that he self-taped an audition for the movie after one of his agents gushed over the project. “He literally said this verbatim,” Liu said. “He was like, ‘If I could stake my career on any one script, it’s the Barbie script. I really think you should do it.’”
Fifth, Aqua’s iconic 1997 song “Barbie Girl” will NOT be on the soundtrack. This horrifying development is apparently due to decades of bad blood between the band and Mattel, which originally sued over copyright infringement. We can only assume Gerwig is planning to feature Belle and Sebastian or Death Cab for Cutie instead.
So, with all these things in mind — and after another hour of staring at that Gosling photo — here’s the best I could come up with for various Barbie plots:
Quirky and free-spirited Barbie (Margot Robbie) lives in Sacramento with BFF Ken (Ryan Gosling), a gay man who has bleached his hair in a crisis over turning 27. In order to fulfill their dream of moving to New York City and attending NYU, they carry out a series of robberies in which they dress in sexy Western outfits.
Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) live in Barbie Land. When they witness a powerful mobster (America Ferrera) carry out a murder, they are forced to go undercover at a cabaret show in Reno, Nevada, where they wear sexy Western outfits.
Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) are humanlike, futuristic robots who are unaware they are androids and live in a theme park called Barbie Land. Gradually, they go haywire and start killing guests, while wearing sexy Western outfits.
Ken (Ryan Gosling) is married to Barbie (Margot Robbie) but discovers a portal through which he can inhabit the mind of Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman, The Crown) as she attempts to write an adapted screenplay based on toy Barbies.
Margot Robbie stars as Barbie — not Barbie the toy, but Barbie the character on which the toy from the Toy Story movies was based. The film features a brief gay kiss between Scott Evans and Ncuti Gatwa, who play married gay astronauts for whatever reason, which conservative commentator Ben Shapiro will later declare “a disgusting attempt to distract children from the fact we’ve never had a gay kissing scene featuring Chris Evans.”
Barbie (Margot Robbie) is a former teen star who grows up and marries Ken (Ryan Gosling), a theater director. They have a quirky son (Michael Cera) who loves Halloween. When their storybook marriage crumbles, the divorce turns into a drawn-out and messy legal affair involving expensive lawyers (Simu Liu and Issa Rae, in an Oscar-winning performance). Barbie ultimately wins ownership of the Dreamhouse (voiced by Will Ferrell). Bereft, Ken sings the Sondheim song “Losing My Mind” from Follies.
Barbie (Margot Robbie) moves with her spiraling mother (Kate McKinnon) to a Montana cattle ranch, where she is taken under the wing of Ken (Ryan Gosling), a moody and queer-coded cowboy. The movie, shot in New Zealand, features a bunch of cowboys who resemble Chippendales dancers running around in chaps and no shirts. Sam Elliott narrates.
Margot Robbie plays Barbie, a social media and reality TV superstar married to Ken-ye (Ryan Gosling). After he pivots to far-right commentary, Barbie meets Australian surfer Blaine (Pete Davidson in a yet-to-be announced role).
When Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) are invited to their 10-year Barbie Land High School reunion, they realize their frivolous, fashion-focused lives have amounted to nothing. Over a 90-minute montage sequence, they try out a series of careers (doctor, ballerina, princess, sexy cowboy, etc.) in order to land jobs that will truly impress their former classmates.
Ken (Ryan Gosling) leaves Barbie (Margot Robbie) for me (David Mack). I also take her convertible.
Hollywood power couple Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) are pushed to their creative limits when they must abandon their mainstream movie backgrounds in order to write and direct a wry indie screenplay that satirizes the limits of intellectual property as a source of inspiration.
Barbie hits cinemas on July 21, 2023 — the very same day as Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama Oppenheimer, which will inevitably be squashed by this pink, sequined gay fever dream. We WILL be watching.
Additional chaotic brainstorming by Tasneem Nashrulla.