Just 18 subtle references you may have missed while watching Barbie.

Barbiemania has swept the globe with hoards of pink-plastered moviegoers flocking to cinemas to catch a glimpse of the year's (hell, the decade's?) most hotly anticipated flick. 

Since the release of Greta Gerwig's triumphant tale about the infamous Mattel doll, the internet has been a'chatter with hot takes, opinion pieces and discussions around the many themes that popped up including the patriarchy, sexism, consumerism, racism and yup, even fascism.

While to many it may just be 'a movie about a doll' to others there are plenty of layers to dig through if you look closely enough. 

If you're thinking about heading along to watch Barbie again, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for these very subtle references. And if you haven't seen the film yet, be warned *spoilers* ahead!

1. The Wizard of Oz.

The Barbie film is not afraid to be referential, it is littered (LITTERED) with nods to famous films and TV shows. One of the most endearing tributes is the references made to The Wizard of Oz

As Barbie embarks on her journey to the Real World she travels along the pink road which is of course a subtle wink at the yellow brick road Dorothy travels along on her way to visit the great and powerful Oz.

Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Warner Bros. Pictures.


Eagle-eyed viewers may also have noticed The Wizard of Oz was playing in a movie theatre as Barbie drives past in her pink Corvette.

2. Bratz dolls.

Not only does Greta Gerwig reference various Barbie dolls throughout the movie, but also their competitor: Bratz.

During a scene where Barbie travels to the real world and goes to high school, she comes across a teenager named Sasha and her friends.

"We haven’t played with Barbie since we were, like, five years old," Sasha tells Barbie.

"You’ve been making women feel bad about themselves since you were invented."

Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Warner Bros. Pictures.


The main four Bratz dolls are called Yasmin, Cloe, Sasha and Jade.

And look pretty similar to these girls.

Coincidence much? We think not.

3. Earring Magic Ken.

This film had no qualms in poking fun at the slew of discontinued dolls that were for one reason or another no longer sold after a brief period on toy shelves. 

While visiting Weird Barbie's house, we are introduced to Earring Magic Ken, a doll that was released in the '90s and was unofficially bestowed the nickname 'Gay Ken'. 


Image: Warner Bros. Pictures/Mattel.

3. Film noir.

At the very beginning of the film, we see a looming Barbie figure which many have attributed to being a reference to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey

If anyone is jumping on the bandwagon calling this movie "vapid" should be reminded that any reference to film noir proves that this is more than just a tale about a doll.


Watch the snippet of Barbie's reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey in one of its official teasers. Post continues after video.

Video via Warner Bros. Pictures.

4. Grease lightning.

When Ken (played by Ryan Gosling) enters his bro era, a montage plays out and it is jacked full of references. Probably the most obvious one is the depiction of the iconic scene in Grease when John Travolta and his crew are decked out in skin-tight black t-shirts singing 'Grease Lightning'. 

In recent years, the film has copped a little flack for pushing a very patriarchal agenda so it makes sense that Greta Gerwig would incorporate the iconic movie in the storyline about Ken towing the misogyny line.

5. The Godfather.

Part of the Barbies' grand plan to reclaim Barbie Land, is a ploy to bamboozle the Kens' by getting them to mansplain the entire plot of The Godfather

This is a well-known trope that The Godfather has become known for its lack of female representation and as a result skews slightly into the realms of being, ya know, a film by men, for men.

6. Pride and Prejudice.

When we are introduced to 'Depressed Barbie', an advert plays out, selling all the features of this unconventional doll.


Along with having the ability to scroll Instagram for several hours, Depressed Barbie has the ability to watch Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth on repeat. Sounds like a pretty standard Friday night to us - where can we buy Depressed Barbie?!

7. Growing up Skipper.

The very controversial and very discontinued doll, Growing Up Skipper makes a cameo in the film. In 1975, Mattel released a version of Barbie's younger sister that would grow a larger bust when you rotated her left arm. 

At the time, it garnered quite a bit of flack for its clunky interpretation of puberty and growing up. Greta Gerwig doesn't miss a beat when it comes to airing Mattel's dirty laundry, does she?

8. Indigo Girls.

The soundtrack to Barbie may just be one of the best ever. With tracks from Lizzo, Dua Lipa and Nicki Minaj there's no shortage of bangers to go around. But there's one song that gets quite a bit of airtime in the film and it has actually been dusted off from the archives.

As Barbie drives along the pink brick road she sings the song 'Closer To Fine' by Indigo Girls which was initially released in 1989. 

"There's more than one answer to these questions, Pointing me in a crooked line, And the less I seek my source for some definitive, Closer I am to fine," sings Barbie. 

She's doing some soul-searching and she's letting the 80s help her find the answers.

9. Tanner, the pooping pup.

At Weird Barbie's house, we meet Tanner the pooping pup, yet another discontinued item from Mattel's chequered past. 


In 2006 they released a dog that would release pellets of poop ready for Barbie to clean up with a magnetic scooper - neat!

Image: Mattel.

In 2010, Tanner and his fun party trick were pulled from the shelves but he will forever live on in Weird Barbie's mansion to poop in privacy.

10. America Ferrera's meta husband.

America Ferrera is rightfully receiving plenty of kudos for her show-stealing monologue about the complexities of being a modern woman. In the film, there is a bite-sized role where her character Gloria's husband makes an appearance. 


It turns out they didn't have to look far to cast that character, they ended up using America's IRL hubby, Ryan Piers Williams. Would have been an easy commute to work that day.

11. Arched feet.

One of the focal points that signalled Stereotypical Barbie's descent into questioning her existence was the loss of her arched feet. 

As she showed off her flat feet to her fellow Barbies, she was met with violent vomiting which made for one of the most amusing moments in the film. Did you know Margot Robbie didn't enlist the help of a foot stand-in for the arched feet shots? She bared her very own perfect heels - BRAVE.

12. The Matrix.

In another clever pop culture reference, they've managed to include a nod to The Matrix, of all movies. When Weird Barbie is explaining to Stereotypical Barbie how to fix her issues, she presents her with two options - a high heel or a Birkenstock. 

Cinema fanatics will recall a very similar scene in The Matrix where Neo must choose between the red or blue pill. Now to imagine a world where The Matrix and Barbie collide...

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures.


13. Emerald Fennell.

The love affair between Emerald Fennell and Margot Robbie forges on and we are all the better for it. Cinema buffs will have noticed the casting of filmmaker and actress, Emerald Fennell, who wrote and directed the movie, Promising Young Woman

This black comedy was co-produced by Margot Robbie and made waves for its moving portrayal of tackling the issue of toxic masculinity. In the Barbie movie, we see Emerald playing discontinued doll 'Midge' who depicted a pregnant woman. 

Mattel came under fire for promoting teen pregnancy at the time and thus Midge was shafted off to the land of forgotten dolls.

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures/Mattel.


14. Clueless.

When we're first invited into Barbie's saccharine world, we see her getting ready for the day. As she stands before her glass screen closet you'll notice one major similarity to the film Clueless

How can we forget Cher's epic closet full to the brim of fun fashion? We like to imagine a world where Stereotypical Barbie and Cher are BFFs and head to the mall by day and tackle the big issues at night.

15. The Truman Show.

As Barbie prepares to exit Barbie Land in order to find her owner in the Real World, it is extremely reminiscent of The Truman Show


Just like in the Jim Carey-led film, we are given the sense that the Mattel CEO wants to keep Barbie locked away in a fantasy land forever for the public's amusement. In the end, both Barbie and Truman Burbank find their way into the Real World.

16. Sex Education.

While there isn't a direct reference line connecting Sex Education to Barbie, it’s hard not to miss some of the main characters from the hit Netflix show. 

Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey and Connor Swindells were all cast in the film making it a very cute little reunion.

17. Saturday Night Fever.

At the beginning of the film, Barbie throws a perfect dance party in Barbie Land that was totally unplanned. 

"I don't have anything big planned, just a giant blow out party with all the Barbies and planned choreography and a bespoke song," she tells Ken. 

The off-the-cuff event gives major Saturday Night Fever vibes from the epic disco-inspired outfits and the groovy dance moves. It's Barbie Fever and it's very contagious.

Want more Barbie movie content? Listen to The Spill below for our very honest thoughts on the film.

Feature Image: Warner Bros. Pictures.

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