Younger millennials may not remember Cabbage Patch Kids, but the cuddly dolls were all the rage when they hit shelves in the 1980s. The toys were in such high demand that riots broke out at some stores across the United States when stores didn’t have enough to sell to customers who waited in lines for hours, resulting in behavior that would embarrassingly become all too familiar around Black Friday decades later.
Now Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and Issa Rae (Insecure, The Hate U Give) are teaming up to make an HBO limited series called The Dolls which tells the story of mothers fighting through the chaos to get a Cabbage Patch Kid for their children.
According to The Wrap, Dern and Rae will star in and executive produce The Dolls, and Rae will write the script. Here’s how HBO describes the series:
Inspired by true events, “The Dolls” recounts the aftermath of Christmas Eve riots within two small Arkansas towns in 1983…riots which erupted over…Cabbage Patch Dolls. The limited series explores class, race, privilege and what it takes to be a “good mother.”
Here’s a news clip from the ’80s that provides some nice background on the craze (pro tip: make sure to watch to the end to see a woman hilariously explain how she doesn’t like the dolls’ faces, but still wants one):
One of the most well-known explorations of the “toy in high demand” phenomenon is the 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Jingle All The Way, which saw Arnold facing off against Sinbad (and seemingly the entirety of his town) to acquire an action figure for his son. That movie is full of slapstick comedy (and some odd sexual metaphors with Phil Hartman’s neighbor character), but it sounds like The Dolls is aiming to be more than just a comedic rehash and looking to actually dig into the economic and societal implications of an event like this.
Rae created and continues to star in, write, and produce Insecure for HBO, and Dern starred in Enlightened for the network for two seasons. She also has experience playing a mother who will do anything for her children on HBO; Dern played Renata Klein on Big Little Lies and returns for the second season, which airs in 2019.
Here’s a short documentary about the secret history of the dolls from Vice:
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