This hilarious fake ad updates Barbie for 2020: Quarantine, white allyship, and more

By Joe Berkowitz

What: A fake ad for Quarantine Dream House Barbie that traces this year’s unexpected plot twists.

Who: Comedian Sara Schaefer and director Scott Moran.

Why we care: By any metric, 2020 has been a weird one. Even before the onset of COVID-19, it was already a variety pack of nightmares whose only bright spot was the Parasite Oscar sweep. Then quarantine gave way to the backlash against quarantine, a topic that was just hitting fever pitch when America suddenly found itself gripped by the greatest racial reckoning since the 1960s.

A new video by comedian Sara Schaefer perfectly captures the whiplash factor of trying to stay sane throughout this singularly chaotic year—especially for her particular demographic.

Although a broad swath of Americans will be able to relate to the video—a triptych of fake ads for Quarantine Dream House—the core audience is millennial white women who grew up playing with Barbies. The first part of the fake ad finds Schaefer’s side-pony’d toy-player marveling at the ease with which she can make Barbie live her best life while sheltering in place. Things take a turn about 30 seconds in, however, just as they might have for many viewers somewhere in late April, when the novelty of quarantine had long worn off and the future began to look like an endless expanse of trauma.

It’s the final turn, however, that really takes this sketch to the next level. Our Quarantine Dream House doll suddenly throws herself into activism and soul-searching, complete with a very tiny copy of Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race, completing the fraught arc of so many well-intentioned white people this year. It’s a hilarious, too-real depiction of 2020 that quietly highlights how difficult it will be for anyone to deal with whatever comes next.

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