The following contains spoilers for Barbie, now playing in theaters.
When the first trailers for the Barbie movie dropped, people took notice of many things. One of these was an interaction between Barbie and one of the humans, but aside from a single joke, there wasn’t much to think about. But, now that the movie is here, there’s a lot more context and said joke has possibly reignited the old Barbie vs. Bratz feud.
The Barbie movie has a charming comedic element that absolutely infects every aspect of the story. One example of this is the relationship between Barbieland and the real world. In Barbie, the Barbies and Kens are sentient beings, existing in a pink bubble in the same world as those who played with Mattel toys. So, when Barbie ventures into the human world, she not only experiences significant culture shock, but she encounters humans like America Ferrera’s impassioned Gloria and Ariana Greenblatt’s Sasha, which provides a nice opportunity for plenty of jokes and satirical introspection as well. Still, the interactions between Barbie and Sasha have specifically been drawing some attention that relates to a real-world rivalry.
Barbie and Mattel Had an Infamous Rivalry With Bratz
Mattel’s Barbie brand has been around since 1959 and has been held dear by many worldwide since the dolls first hit the market. The brand’s had its fair share of controversy throughout the years, and one of the biggest troubles Barbie is known for is the long-running feud with Bratz’s parent company, MGA Entertainment. What originally started as some innocent comparisons between Barbie fans and Bratz fans quickly sparked into a messy legal battle between the two.
The two brands’ dolls are opposite in terms of aesthetic, with Barbie being the perfect blonde bombshell and the Bratz dolls serving as the edgier counterparts with some sass and much more diversity. The problems arose with the usual market competition between the two, fighting to keep control over their young female target audience. Unfortunately, the disputes only intensified, going well past the fans to court over some allegations of Bratz’s designer misappropriating trade secrets from Mattel. The messiness ended up temporarily halting Bratz’s production and practically ended the feud altogether. With that said, those who grew up in the early 2000s know what it means to be a Bratz or Barbie fan, and this idea has rubbed off on the Barbie movie a bit.
Barbie May Poke Fun at the Bratz Rivalry
One of the most obvious similarities between Greenblatt’s character and the Bratz dolls is her name. Sasha is one of the best-known Bratz dolls, with the original four being Sasha, Yasmin, Cloe, and Jade. However, something more notable is her appearance. While the Sasha doll has a more dramatized look, the human Sasha has a similar sense of style. This can be seen as Sasha and her mom accompany Barbie to the Truman Show-esque Barbieland. Her outfit of choice is a pair of baggy jeans, an off-the-shoulder jacket, and a tank top. The colors of the fit are pretty Barbie-centric as well.
This sense of style is hardly unusual, as it’s been making a reappearance in the past couple of years, especially among Gen Z. But this fashion sense was actually the norm in the early 2000s. Baggy and low-rise jeans, hot pinks, statement jackets, and bold, over-pronounced lip wear are all fashion statements that are widely associated with the late ’90s or Y2K era. As such, it’s not surprising that the 2001-created Bratz dolls are draped in a similar getup. Aside from Sasha’s name and appearance, Greenblatt’s character adds an extra layer to the Bratz vs. Barbie vibe throughout their interactions. She’s initially framed as someone who dislikes Barbies. She’s Barbie’s harshest critic at first, even implying that Barbie dolls are too childish for her. Bratz was certainly framed as the more modern and mature alternative to Barbie. Even if Greenblatt’s Sasha character wasn’t a direct reference to the Bratz feud, it’s fair to assume that Sasha and her closest friends were Bratz kids growing up.
To see Barbie and Sasha evoke the Barbie vs. Bratz rivalry, Barbie is now playing in theaters.