Uncovering the Truth Behind Malibu Stacy and Barbie
Malibu Stacy, an iconic toy parodying another beloved classic, made a grand reappearance in the public eye this year, in an extraordinary and eccentric manner. The unexpected event took place on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, the same day when former President Donald Trump faced arraignment in a Manhattan criminal court following his indictment by a federal grand jury (despite his plea of not guilty). Coincidentally, that exact day marked the release of a highly anticipated new Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie and directed by Greta Gerwig.
While these two incidents may appear unrelated in significance, they both captured the attention of the internet. Particularly, a scene from an episode of The Simpsons titled “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy,” originally aired in 1994, began circulating online. In this episode, news anchor Kent Brockman finds himself unexpectedly fascinated by the empowering new doll created by Lisa. Brockman, although it seemed unusual to dedicate 28 minutes to a doll, found it impossible to stop discussing it. He concludes, “It’s just really fascinating news, folks. Goodnight!” As he wraps up, he hurriedly adds, “Oh… and the president was arrested for murder. More on that tomorrow night!” This comical juxtaposition was the ingenious creation of Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley, the brilliant minds behind the episode.
Weinstein explains that they aimed to find a news event that would seem far more significant than the launch of a new doll. “At the time, the concept of the president of the United States being indicted for anything seemed absurd. And that’s where the humor lies,” he says. “Many jokes make us laugh because they highlight the truth about human nature, politics, or any other subject. The laughter is our reaction to the truth. The Simpsons excels at perceiving people’s nature and, as a result, it may seem like we predict things, even though we obviously don’t.”
With the impending release of the Barbie movie, as well as potential future developments in Trump’s legal situation, Weinstein, Oakley, and Kathleen Turner, the guest star who provided the cynical voice for Malibu Stacy’s creator, spoke to Vanity Fair about the enduring legacy of the iconic and eerie “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” episode. Its impact extends beyond the curious Barbie/Trump connection.
Oakley acknowledges the episode’s lasting impact, saying, “Out of the hundreds of Simpsons episodes, only a few truly stick in people’s minds, even though many of them are excellent. ‘Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy’ seems to be one of those unforgettable episodes. It particularly resonates with women—a favorite among female Simpsons fans.”
The serendipitous connection between the Barbie movie and The Simpsons exceeded all expectations. The cast initially rehearsed “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” on July 15, 1993. Weinstein remarks, “We had the table read for this episode exactly 30 years ago this week.”
Furthermore, there is a deeper thematic connection between Gerwig’s Barbie movie and “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy.” Both delve into the cultural impact of an iconic doll. Gerwig’s film explores Barbie’s self-awareness and contemplation of the potential harm caused by her influence on numerous young girls who idolized her throughout the decades.
The enduring fascination with Malibu Stacy and the lingering impact of “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” attest to the cultural relevance and timeless appeal of these iconic toys.