Shonda Rhimes says Barbie film didn’t need to be feminist manifesto

The TV producer bought the rights to the upcoming Netflix documentary about the first black Barbie.

Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes (Doug Peters/PA)

Shonda Rhimes has said people wanted the smash-hit Barbie film to be a feminist manifesto “that it doesn’t need to be”.

The prolific producer behind acclaimed TV dramas Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Bridgerton bought the rights to an upcoming Netflix documentary about the story of the first black Barbie.

Asked if she liked box office juggernaut Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, Rhimes answered “no comment”.

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie at the European premiere of Barbie
Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie at the European premiere of Barbie (Ian West/PA)

The Greta Gerwig-directed film sees Barbieland controlled by women until the Mattel dolls experience patriarchy by entering the real world.

It also features a powerful monologue, which won America Ferrera an Oscar nomination, about the hypocritical expectations placed on women by society and has been seen as a tongue-in-cheek feminist tale.

“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,” 54-year-old Rhimes told Variety.

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

“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.

“I think that people wanted it to be sort of this feminist manifesto that it doesn’t need to be.”

It comes after Colombian pop superstar Shakira said the film could be seen as “emasculating” to young boys and women should be empowered “without robbing men of their possibility to be men”.