There are no limits to the facets of inspiration. Anything can become the gateway to creativity, a launch pad of success that initiates the synapses to fire and the magic of ingenuity to formulate. Inspiration can come from anywhere – even a sex doll.
Yes, you read that right – even a sex doll.
Cody Heller can vouch for it – it was her boyfriend’s former sex doll that helped her to break down her own barriers of creativity and self-discovery. While far from new to the scene of TV writing (having written and created Deadbeat, as well as a writer for Wilfred), Heller brings an inescapable vulnerability to her latest series Dummy, an honesty not typically seen in female-driven stories about the real minds behind the modern-day women. It is real in every possible way, including the unimaginable.
There is a beauty to seeing the work of a female writer be so honest and so true to self – as well as unhinged and raunchy. It is brutally honest and primed to become the series you fall in love with next.
Cody (Anna Kendrick) is a seemingly struggling TV writer, in a constant battle with her own self-confidence and the overwhelming success of her boyfriend Dan (Donal Logue). While at first, she seems to exude the confidence of a happy and successful woman, the cracks and fractures she internally battles and conceals begin to show when she accidentally stumbles onto her boyfriend’s sex doll – who happens to talk to her.
While she originally attributes her delusions to an overdose of expired Melatonin gummies, Cody comes to quickly accept the doll, whose name is Barbara (Meredith Hagner), is in fact talking to her – even acknowledging that it is her own subconscious bringing the doll to life. While at first, it is all about keeping the discovery of Barbara a secret from her boyfriend, Cody begins to discover there is more beyond the sequins and outdated body parts.
Accepting Barbara into her life, she begins to discover more about herself – both the good and the ugly. As Cody hears her own inner thoughts out-loud, Barbara transforms from sex goddess to the thing she has been missing most from her life.
What makes Dummy so successful…
When I first heard about Dummy, I couldn’t help my mind from instantly drawing reference to Lars and the Real Girl. Both in the film and here, an inanimate doll is the transitional tool to help the protagonist move forward. Yet, while there are similarities – this is no Lars and the Real Girl.
Debuting on Quibi, with a solid 10 episodes, Dummy brings the female perspective in one of the most naked depictions that comes to mind. The vulnerability and raw nature of the things Barbara says to Cody are subconscious thoughts every women has had to shut down or bury inside them. While it is accompanied with humor, there is a real personal truth that shines through Dummy. To be honest, there were moments I thought Barabara was talking to me, as though she had reached into the depths of my subconscious, saying the things I could never.
And Dummy is authentic. Many of the female-driven scripts and depictions show how we expect a woman to act, the internal conflicts within buried even on screen. Here we give both sides, the authenticity further driven by the retention of the real-life names of which this series is based on – Cody Heller and Dan Harmon. It is this authenticity that truly brings the relatability of Dummy full circle.
Bringing onscreen Cody to life is Anna Kendrick, who is also an executive producer of the series. Yes, this is quirky quintessential Kendrick – but better. Where the purity and young adult friendliness of her previous roles made you an instant fan, her work on Dummy will have you fall in love. She owns this role and every element of story telling and experience it has to deliver. To date, this instantly becomes one of her top performances.
Learning to Love One’s Self
As I have mentioned, Dummy is one of the most honest depictions of the female perspective. As Barbara takes on the subconscious mind – i.e. Cody’s – the inner self comes crashing to the surface. It can not be silenced, it can not be shaken – it can only be understood. This separation between Cody and Barbara gives viewers the chance to see the mind come alive and witness its layers, baring everything on the table.
While there is enough humor to go around throughout the entirety of the series, this idea of learning to love yourself is just as unrelenting. It may not be so easily understood at first, but as we journey with Cody, it clearly begins to show itself. As we listen to our fears and our insecurities, battling them head-on rather than burying them, we can find the strength to push past the barriers that prevent us from moving forward and claiming our success. We need to not only listen to ourselves everyone once in awhile, but learn to love ourselves as well.
We need more content like this, and I commend Cody Heller on the bravery to share this part of herself and her life with viewers. Her honesty and truth can speak volumes, giving messages of self-worth while also remaining entertaining. While the series ends with a satisfying conclusion, I found myself wanting more, wondering if there could be more. And I know many will feel the same.
This is not the last we will see from Cody Heller, and I can not wait to see what she brings us next.
Have you seen Dummy? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Dummy is currently streaming on Quibi!
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