MCN Commentary & Analysis

Quibi Review: Dummy

I never thought it would happen to me.

I wandered through Quibi’s programming selections the week it launched. A few minutes here, a few minutes there. A laugh or two. Pun titles all over, like Gayme Show and Dishmantled and Barkitecture. But nothing I felt compelled to stick with. After jumping on the app a bunch of times in the first week, it became just another app square staring from my phone.

And the app seemed dead.

But while sitting in a long Starbucks drive-thru line, wanting to distract myself somewhere outside of my home, I jumped back in. And the one show I had not watched but was intrigued by— to me, as in “why is she doing this?”—was Anna Kendrick and Dummy. The image of Kendrick and a sex doll that represented the show was off-putting. I mean, how could it be. On Quibi. The app with Chrissy Teigen as a judge, which seemed to be the natural extension of Kate McKinnon sexualizing Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But there I sat. I turned the sound on in the car, turned the phone to widescreen, and it began.

The sexualized version of Anna Kendrick, who shows up now and again. When she grooms a hair on her (unseen) breast, you know something is different. Big handful of expired pot gummies. Her boyfriend is Donal Logue (Dan), who is about a decade too old for the relationship. Hmmm. Honest dialogue. Sweet kink.

And then, the sex doll. I won’t explain how she arrives. But she is found by Anna Kendrick’s Cody (same name as the writer/creator of the show) by calling for Cody.

So what is this? A fantasy? Michigan J. Frog? A set of universal rules that are outside of the norm? All of the above?

What follows for nearly an hour is a panini of the familiar and the unexpected. The Sex Doll, named Barbara (voiced by Meredith Hagner) becomes the comic driver of the piece. She is, even more than the characters we have already met, who love how super-honest they are, dead honest. Or at least she is as a reflection of the unspoken truths that Cody dare not speak.

Then there all the flavor crystals spread throughout. Dan is fully named Dan Harmon, who has been “involved with” the real Cody Heller for years. Ballsy. Though apparently Cody never met Dan’s sex doll. But the fact that she didn’t do sex doll research for the writing of this piece makes it all the more clear that it is about Cody and not about Barbara.

There is an episode where there is an exploration of feminism in terms of how women see themselves with men and how they see other women—or dolls—who are with men. And how dolls see women. The female in the Hollywood pool is a theme throughout, but most specific in the episode “The Bechdel Test.”

I really, really liked this piece. And that is really what it is. A short film with a beginning, middle and end. I like it so much that I don’t want a season two. It’s better than that.

If you are shy about words about human excretions, etcetera, this is not for you. It is rough and raw and right to the point (or the liquids left inside Barbara). But it’s fun and smart and remarkably serious at moments, though it doesn’t take itself seriously for a second.

They did take it seriously enough to hire Tricia Brock, who is a legitimate veteran TV director, to direct the piece.

I don’t know what category this fits in for the Emmys, but it is a worthy candidate for a nomination and maybe even for a win. Is Quibi going there? I don’t know. But it’s the only truly original, thoughtful, high-end piece I have seen on the app. Seriously… this could be an episode of Black Mirror and it would be all anyone could talk about for weeks.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kendrick is coming out in an HBO Max series (Love Life) in a few weeks that is already being positioned for Emmys. But I seriously hope this piece won’t be lost in the wake. It’s one of my favorite new things I have seen in these months of screening a lot of new stuff.

9 Responses to “Quibi Review: Dummy”

  1. Bradley Laing says:

    thought: “Box Office Mojo” often lists 700 theatrical releases a year, most of them “limited.” I thought it takes 18 months from finished script to movie theaters. If true, that means the number of movies heading for theaters can be guessed 18 months in advance, based on movie start dates. But after two months of close theaters, and closed movie sets, you can guess in advance that the year 2022 will have much less than 700 movies in theaters?

    —Notice the question mark. That is intentional.

  2. Bob Burns says:

    Brazen irony by the NY Times using Ben Smith to do a hit piece on Ronan Farrow. Their editors could play Russian roulette and there would be little chance of an undeserving loser.

    Human institutions are flawed. Fine. Anyone who has followed the Times awards reporting for years will know that their editing is often so bad as to be ridiculous. But if they are going to publicly criticize reporters, they have plenty on their own staff, reporters and editors, that should receive pubic, critical treatment before they point fingers outside of their own building.

  3. Bradley Laing says:

    “A First Glimpse at the 30-Page Hollywood Safety White Paper Being Drafted for Governors — Exclusive

    Chris O’Falt: “….There’s a certain disconnect between the efforts of the white paper and Newsom’s announcement. Newsom on Monday will lay out guidelines for production to resume — but that will happen before hearing from the industry task force designed to make recommendations to government of how to do so safely. Sources have suggested that the task force originally hoped the white paper could be presented to Newsom by May 18. However, it’s now expected to take another couple of weeks.”

  4. Amblinman says:

    So Nolan made Inception 2. Three million hour runtime filled with “So time travel?” “NO! Here, let me explain with this fruit cup…”

    Has it dawned on anyone else that maybe Nolan’s ceiling is Taylor Hackford vs David Lean?

  5. leahnz says:

    is a fruit cup a step up (or down) from a bookshelf

  6. Amblinman says:

    “…You have to step on to the bookshelf to reach the fruit cup! Now do you get it!?”
    “…but it sounds like time travel!”
    “UGH! Okay – see that avocado on the table? Pretend you’re going to vomit all over it, the resulting chunks show us that…”

  7. Bob Burns says:

    the progress of the epidemic here has been so stupid that anything is possible.

    in Portugal, where my son lives, (he is ok, btw) the number of new cases is nearly zero. They locked down hard enough to nearly eliminate the spread, and the small number of new cases is small enough to corral, surround with testing and individual quarentines. Their normal life has returned and is safe.
    Here in the US, who knows? It seems that half the country doesn’t give a rats ass whether their fellow Americans are threatened, and our politicians stifle the voices of science, because they don’t want their grifts disturbed.
    Perfect that a Nolan film will lead Hollywood into the callous dystopia.

  8. leahnz says:

    glad to hear your kid is doing ok, bob

    (this fruit cup thing, assuming i see this movie at some point i will now be thinking about a fruit cup the entire runtime)

  9. Bobby jo Williams says:

    The show is awkward and weird a talking doll brings me back to every talking doll we seen killer dolls funny dolls and dumb dolls i rate this 0

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