A funny, crass and personal story of a woman grappling with her insecurities — and with a talking, sentient sex doll.
This review of Dummy (Quibi) is spoiler-free.
Dummy (Quibi) isn’t a true story in the sense that everything it depicts actually happened, but it’s true in the sense that it reflects a real woman’s grappling with her personal and professional insecurities. That woman is the show’s writer, Cody Heller, whose own Wikipedia page insists is perhaps better known as the girlfriend of Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon. Dan, it turns out, had a sex doll. I assume his didn’t talk, but the one in Dummy does, and in the voice of Meredith Hagner.
Exclusive to Quibi, Dummy isn’t subtle about Barbara the sex doll being a reflection of Cody’s inability to process its existence and what it means for her and her relationship. Cody is here perfectly-cast as Anna Kendrick, introduced as an anxious pothead who overdoses on expired melatonin gummy bears. She’s sexually open with her Dan (Donal Logue), unashamed of their various kinks and fetishes, but the revelation – prompted by the discovery of an errant sequin – of Barbara quickly begins to haunt her. She writes off their initial encounter as a trip, but the next day the interlocution continues. On some level, Cody knows that she’s ascribing her a will and a personality she doesn’t really possess; having Barbara hone in on and give voice to her anxieties. But knowing doesn’t keep Barbara quiet, and before long Cody is bathing her and driving her to be repaired when she accidentally becomes injured.
This isn’t subtle commentary, but the real Cody’s writing lends a truthful, lived bent to the idea of feeling sexually surplus and the very specific dynamic of a younger, less successful woman being in a relationship with an older, much more successful man. That perspective is really what helps Dummy to feel like more than a gimmicky adult comedy, although it has the foul-mouthed and sexually explicit attitude of that genre as well. Some of the crudity is reaching a bit, trying slightly too hard to be edgy, but a lot of it lands well, and Cody and Barbara’s relationship – Dan features in the first three episodes a lot less than either of them – quickly becomes charming.
Dummy relies on the strength of its writing, then, but also its leads. Kendrick and Logue are both note-perfect, especially the former, who’s always a fun comedic presence, and largely has to act against the faintly terrifying face of Barbara, rendered in crude PS2-quality CGI. It isn’t a ground-breaking show but it is a comfortably enjoyable one rooted in an engaging, personal perspective – and in these trying, lonely times, plenty of people will perhaps find some solace in learning how to deal with a sex doll intruding in their love lives.
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