Mattel’s New Commercial Finally Gets Why Barbie Is So Fun to Play With

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Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 18.41.18I adore Barbie. As a small child I would have said my Barbies were my favorite toys, and I never actually stopped liking them. In high school I went through a secretive phase where I’d scope out the collectors’ editions at FAO Schwartz and hide one or two in my bed to give them punky haircuts while pretending to do homework. As an adult, half my fashion inspiration comes from the vintage-esqe Silkstone Barbie line. And in spite of Barbie’s many problematic aspects, I still loved her, played with her, and grew up to be an academically minded, body-positive feminist.

Now Mattel has come out with a terribly cute new Barbie commercial that actually reflects the way I and my friends played with the dolls when we were small. For us, dolls and action figures were a catalyst for imaginative play. Maybe the Barbies were aliens on a spaceship. Maybe Barbie was an archaeologist and that other Barbie was a mummy. Maybe all the Barbies were the Greek gods from D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, and we’d have them act out all the myths until we got tired of Hera and pitched her out the window.

The ways kids play with dolls are limitless, and this new commercial finally seems to get it. It starts with a little girl entering a college class and announcing that she is the professor and will be teaching about the brain. She dispenses some pretty cute information–human brains can think more than dog brains, because there is no high school for dogs–and also pronounces it “bwains,” which is ridiculously adorable.

Meanwhile, another little girl is a veterinarian seeing patients. She asks one woman if she’s seen her cat fly. When the woman says no, the tiny veterinarian nods sagely and says, “Well, my cat can fly.”

I think my favorite is the tiny soccer coach running a team of soccer players through drills.

“Get those knees higher! Like a unicorn’s!” she barks.

It’s all extremely cute, and then we see that Professor Bwains is sitting in her bedroom, pretending one Barbie doll is a professor lecturing an assembled array of other dolls about dog brains. It’s adorable and imaginative, and it will probably remind a lot of us of how we used to play with our dolls when we were kids. Heck, it reminds me of how I play with dolls now.