Rarely, a cinematic event comes along that knocks the filmgoing world off its axis, a work of art so disruptive that we must reset the collective expectation of visual excellence and narrative potency.
“Citizen Kane.” “The Godfather.”
Argue if you must, but after a million summers of man-powered movies full of splodey-go-boom planetary destruction choking the summer box office, SOME OF US are hyped for a hot pink, subversive, feminist romp. CERTAIN PEOPLE are so very ready to have our childhood dolls, those problematic yet iconic busty ladies with impossible proportions and DIY home haircuts, represented onscreen.
Director Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” comes out July 21, starring Margot Robbie as the titular toy. She lives a perfect life in Barbie Land until, wracked by existential questions, her worldview destabilizes. Deeply relatable! Barbie ventures into the real world with Ken (Ryan Gosling, perfection) as a stowaway.
But indulge this alternate premise: What if, say, on her sojourn of self-discovery, Barbie ended up in Tampa Bay? Which powerful, confident Barbies would she meet here?
Gasparilla Wench Barbie is wearing a corset, petticoat, high-heeled boots that conform to her pointed feet and a pirate hat covered in Swarovski pins. She is discussing her charity work while networking for her real estate LLC. She can hold her Milk Punch better than all Kens.
SoHo Saturday Barbie is wearing an $18 Shein dress and $150 Nike Dunks. She just got her lips done. The other Barbies whisper that she needs to blend her contour. She left Ken at MacDinton’s because he said, “chill” when she told him their pink convertible was getting towed.
Trader Joe’s on Sunday Barbie is wearing an Athleta skort with pockets. She is backing her Subaru into the last parking space. She buys six bunches of peonies, a bag of chicken fried rice and some Everything But the Bagel seasoning. She knows peace.
Ybor City Expert Barbie is wearing a black dress that doesn’t show sweat. She has been to three weddings at Gaspar’s Grotto but wouldn’t get married there herself. She smokes cigars, knows which buildings are haunted and where to get the best Cuban sandwich. She tells Ken for the fifth time to leave the chickens alone.
St. Pete Saturday Morning Market Barbie is wearing a crochet bra and cutoffs. She tows her dog, Taffy, in a collapsible wagon. She buys a straw hat, English cucumbers and an orchid. She makes Ken film her using the fitness hula hoops for TikTok. She gets a chair massage because her plastic neck hurts.
Clearwater Beach Spring Break Barbie is wearing a neon hoodie in 94-degree heat on top of her cheeky bikini. On her feet, socks and Crocs, because she never shows the toes for free. She’s going to a DJ set at Shephard’s, then maybe a party at Ken’s Intracoastal condo.
Dunedin Day-Tripper Barbie is wearing bejeweled sandals and a breathable leopard-print dress. She walks in the bike lane and buys a decorative marlin sculpture for her laundry room. She thinks it would be cute to get a Dreamhouse expansion pack here until she sees home prices. She settles for a Strachan’s shake.
Spend your days with Hayes
Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Pasco Nudist Resort Barbie is wearing a towel but didn’t realize it was “that” kind of resort. She is relieved to have smooth anatomy. She kind of likes it here?
Weeki Wachee Mermaid Barbie is wearing a Barbie Dreamtopia Rainbow Magic mermaid tail, sequined bikini top and waterproof mascara. She breathes through a tube and remains calm because she is a third-generation MerBarbie, and swimming in this tank is an honor and a privilege.
Westchase Power Barbie is wearing head-to-toe Lululemon (comes with seven interchangeable cross-body belt bags) and pink Cloudnovas. She drops the kids at school before hitting Pure Barre and taking a few business Zooms. She totes a Stanley mug of MiO water to the association meeting to represent her neighborhood, Wycliff.
Emerald Bar Bathroom Barbie is wearing a local punk T-shirt from the ’90s that she cropped with scissors back home at the Dreamhouse. She just got a new thigh tattoo and drinks Wild Turkey from a plastic cup. She calculates your sun and rising signs while standing at the scratched bathroom mirror.
Good Time Gulfport Barbie is wearing a rainbow tie-dye dress and Chacos. She is on her third Miller Lite at O’Maddy’s and is considering singing “Mustang Sally” at karaoke. She will rescue two new kittens found mewling behind the bar.
Tampa Bay Ken is just Ken.
Get Stephanie’s newsletter
For weekly bonus content and a look inside columns by Stephanie Hayes, sign up for the free Stephinitely newsletter.