scorecardShonda Rhimes thinks people tried too hard to make 'Barbie' a 'feminist manifesto'
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Shonda Rhimes thinks people tried too hard to make 'Barbie' a 'feminist manifesto'

Palmer Haasch   

Shonda Rhimes thinks people tried too hard to make 'Barbie' a 'feminist manifesto'
EntertainmentEntertainment2 min read
  • Shonda Rhimes said that she thought "Barbie" was a great movie.
  • However, she thinks some people may have overhyped it as a "feminist manifesto."

Shonda Rhimes said that the "Barbie" movie was "delightful" — but thinks that it might have been overhyped as a feminist masterpiece.

The acclaimed showrunner behind hits like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" spoke with Variety ahead of the third season of "Bridgerton," Rhimes' Regency-era Netflix hit. Rhimes told Variety that she saw the film at home rather than theaters, and initially declined to comment on whether or not she liked the film.

When pressed, Rhimes said she had positive feelings about the movie — but she had some reservations with the way that some people framed it.

"Here's what I'll say. If you're expecting a 'Barbie' movie, then I thought it was great. But I think a lot of people were expecting so much more, and then tried to make it so much more," Rhimes told Variety.

"There was nothing wrong with the movie; I thought it was totally delightful," she continued. "But the weight people put on a movie about Barbie was very interesting to me."

She concluded, "I think that people wanted it to be sort of this feminist manifesto that it doesn't need to be."

"Barbie" was the highest-grossing film of 2023, crossing the $1 billion threshold 17 days after it premiered. It was also a cultural phenomenon beyond the box office — Barbiemania was everywhere this summer, from brand collaborations to memes about seeing it as a double feature with Christopher Nolan's decidedly more somber biopic "Oppenheimer."

The film's gender politics received a mixed reception, particularly America Ferrera's character Gloria's now-famous monologue about being a woman. Some critiqued the speech, which highlights some of the contradictions of womanhood, for oversimplifying feminism.

"If you are well-versed in feminism, then it might seem like an oversimplification, but there are entire countries that banned this film for a reason," Ferrera told The New York Times in response to the criticism. To say that something that is maybe foundational or, in some people's view, basic feminism isn't needed is an oversimplification."

Rhimes will soon be putting her own spin on Barbie: her production company, Shondaland, and Netflix acquired the documentary "Black Barbie," which tells the story of the first Black Barbie. Rhimes was also Barbie-fied herself in 2022, as part of a Mattel project aiming to empower girls.

Outside work, Rhimes is also still reminded of Greta Gerwig's 2023 smash hit at home. "I've heard the song 'I'm Just Ken' in my house every single day because one of my kids sings it all the time," she said.