On Saturday Night Live this week, host Donald Glover put his social media skills to work coming up with captions for Barbie’s personal Instagram page in order to impress Mattel’s Senior VP of Barbie Social Media, played by Kenan Thompson. SNL has lampooned Barbie before — Kristin Wiig’s memorable impression made waves — but never the doll marketing industry. It was a weird twist and it got weirder as Glover, playing a copywriter, offered some very serious, very literal, and very dark suggestions.
One of the photos showed Barbie posed like she was talking on the phone with her puppy sitting on the floor to her right. While the other two interviewees made simple suggestion s(“I can’t find my dog!” and “I’m Barbie!”) Glover began to build a narrative about loss and separation. Suddenly, Barbie was in mourning and unable to meet up with her beautiful friends.
“Hey. I’m so sorry to do this, but I won’t be able to come to the party,” his character suggested.”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. Anyway, give me a call when you can. Oh, I’m sorry, this is Barbie. But you knew that you have Caller I.D. I’m so stupid, goodbye.”
This suggestion was not in line with Mattel’s normal Barbie social media strategy, which strongly emphasizes good vibes.
The sketched climaxed with Glover suggesting that Barbie might be in the middle of an existential crisis triggered by the discovery that she’s is, in fact, a doll. In essence, Glover’s character, given the opportunity to pitch innocuous copy, pitched the plot of Westworld. Like that show, the tone was pitch black.
Looking at a photo of Barbie admiring a sunset, Glover offered a gem: “This is the first and last day of my life.”