We don’t know much about Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. That information gap, combined with the trailer (watch above), has made it ripe for speculation about what the film is actually about.
Here, the internet’s 5 best theories about Barbie, all of which hinge on similar points (Barbie leaving her Dream World) but diverge on why or how Barbie leaves:
1. The Wizard of Oz theory
The Barbieland theater in the trailer is playing Wizard of Oz, which many think is a huge Easter egg.
TikToker Cat Quinn theorizes that Wizard of Oz could explain what’s to come in Barbie. “I think we’re looking at an epic journey to another world, filled with people that she helps along the way—when she gets there, she realizes this seemingly gilded place is actually pretty wicked. Will she ultimately realize there’s no place like home and tap her Barbie pink slippers together three times?”
Another user, Hope Sloop on Twitter, said: “I have this feeling this movie is going to ask the question: What if Dorothy started out in Oz and ended up in Oklahoma?” (Later, she clarified she meant Kansas, not Oklahoma.)
There are even shots that line up between Barbie and Wizard of Oz:
2. The Truman Show theory
A leaked Letterboxd account of Margot Robbie, star of the film, featured five films that she labeled as “watch for Barbie”: The Young Girls of Rochefort, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Splash, Puberty Blues, and, notably, The Truman Show.
Letterboxd’s official Twitter account issued a statement: “Margot Robbie does not officially have a Letterboxd that we know of,” which is not a denial!
After the trailer dropped, users on Twitter took to hypothesizing: What if Barbie and Ken try to leave, and can’t?
Users also noted that Barbie Land’s real estate layout looks very similar to Seaside, Florida in The Truman Show.
One redditor, u/visionaryredditor, wrote, “people who watched it at the test screeenings compared it to The Truman Show as well.”
3. The Lego Movie and Toy Story theory
Instead of Truman Show, other Internet sleuths think the trailer actually gives more of a Lego Movie vibe—where the plot is revealed to be a young child playing with Lego sets. Toy Story, too, features a child playing with toys (though it’s not hidden from the audience). Both are famous toy movies, as u/Karsvolcano space notes: “I wonder how much they will lean into the toy theme. The Lego Movie was a pretty good expansion on that Toy Story formula (main characters are toys controlled by a child). I could see them doing something similar.”
“I’m getting Lego Movie vibes. It’ll probably be revealed that it’s a little girl, or girls, playing with their Barbie dolls,” redditor u/beastson1 hypothesizes. Another, u/ObeyMyBrain, writes, “Yea definitely seems Lego movie adjacent. Might even been same universe with will Farrell [sic].”
As redditor u/Riderz__of_Brohan writes, “It’s gonna be like the Lego Movie and Toy Story, Barbie and Ken escape Barbie world because Barbie wants ‘more’ and Ken has an idealized view of it, both have some hardships but eventually find their place, then fight the evil president (Ferrell who will probably play it up like Mugatu) who wants to keep Barbie land separate.”
Others point to Kate McKinnon’s Barbie is a hint that it is Lego Movie-esque:
One user joked on Twitter that it will be a psychological thriller that “is just some 11 year old girl’s playtime routine”:
4. Is Ken the villain?
Will Ken be an antagonist in the film? In the Barbie-verse, Ken is just an accessory to Barbie. What happens when he gets a taste of something more?
“Ken is leaving a world in which he has nothing except his dependence on Barbie… when Ken enters the real world… he’s going to be entering a world in which he has more autonomy and power than his other life,” TikToker @JStoobs hypotheizes:
5. The Good Place theory
What if Barbieland is not as it seems? One user guesses that Barbie could be similar to the Good Place, where Will Ferrell’s character (a toy company CEO) plays a role similar to that of Michael (played by Ted Danson) in the NBC sitcom about the afterlife.
Barbie premieres July 21, 2023 in theaters.
Emily Burack (she/her) is the news writer for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Before joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma, a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram.