Netflix to Release Barbie Documentary Produced by the Team Behind Bridgerton

The Barbie phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down, as Netflix is set to release a documentary centered on the history of the Black Barbie. This surge in Barbie-related content was initially sparked by Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, which premiered in theaters on July 21. The film achieved both critical and commercial success, earning a remarkable $1.4 billion at the box office and claiming the title of the year’s biggest movie. Gerwig’s creation undeniably triggered a cultural Barbie craze, leading to a resurgence of interest in all things Barbie.

The Black Barbie documentary, as its name suggests, delves into the origin of the first Black Barbie doll, which made its debut in 1980, three decades after the original Barbie hit the market in 1959. The documentary places a spotlight on the contributions of three remarkable Black women—Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins, and Stacey McBride Irby—who were employed at Mattel and played pivotal roles in advocating for the development of the Black Barbie. Significantly, the director of the documentary, Lagueria Davis, is the niece of Beulah Mae Mitchell, establishing a personal connection to the subject matter.

In essence, the documentary charts the journey of the Black Barbie’s creation and its subsequent cultural significance. As per the official description, the documentary delves into “the importance of representation and how dolls can be crucial to the formation of identity and imagination.” It also features interviews with insiders from Mattel, consumers, cultural analysts, and historians. After its premiere at SXSW, the documentary, titled “Black Barbie,” received widespread acclaim and currently holds a remarkable 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Netflix’s acquisition of this documentary occurs in the midst of the ongoing Barbie phenomenon, largely ignited by the tremendous success of Gerwig’s Barbie movie. The cast of the Barbie film is inclusive and multicultural, and while the documentary shares the common theme of exploring the doll’s intricate relationship with diversity and inclusion, it also aims to investigate the doll’s polarizing reputation. In the spirit of Gerwig’s movie, “Black Barbie” seeks to engage audiences whether they love or have mixed feelings about the iconic doll.

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