Quibi launched earlier this month and despite initial reports, it’s available in Australia. There’s a good mix of short form content but I’ve been holding out for Dummy.
Starring Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) and written by Cody Heller, it tells a re-imagined story of the time Heller discovered her partner, Dan Harmon (Community, Rick & Morty) had a secret sex doll. In the retelling the doll comes to life, rocking a liberal amount of filthy dialogue as the fictional Cody faces her anxieties through a blaze of weed smoke. As ridiculous as the premise is, the show strikes nerve. It may be the most unique and confronting show to grace streaming services this year.
For followers of Dan Harmon, especially those who listened to his podcast Harmontown, Dummy will familiar. Heller makes no attempt to mask the real life narrative behind her fiction. She even uses her and Harmon’s real names. When she first pitched the show a few years ago, the pair were going to play themselves.
From subtle references to Harmon’s stocking and red head fetishes to the cute ‘Bean’ nickname he uses for Heller – fans will be reminded of the honesty that Harmontown brought to their ears every week. Both the beautiful and the ugly.
But the allure goes further than that. Even without intimate knowledge of the couple’s history (the parts that have been liberally dolled out on stage and via social media, anyway) Dummy is more honest than anything I have seen in a long time.
Where Harmon used the podcast to confront his demons after he was fired from Community, Dummy is where Heller seems to be exorcising hers.
I’m cautious to quote the show as to not ruin the jokes, but on the surface level Dummy is refreshingly hilarious. Sex doll Barbara has a filthy mouth, and some of Cody’s lines are the types of things you wouldn’t say outside the confines of an intimate friend group. In that way it’s reminiscent of shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Big Mouth.
The show manages to balance modern, often self-deprecating humour with one liners from Barbara that have the capacity to make you choke. Nobody expects a human-sized doll to say “I have a years worth of Dan’s pole milk up there” while the main character is high on weed and expired melatonin gummies.
But woven into fabric between the lurid jokes and insane second act plot points is a plethora of anxieties that are usually confined to the darkest corners of one’s mind. Heller has managed to create a show with a ridiculous premise that explores body issues, romantic insecurities and professional fears in a raw and meaningful way.
Barbara is our inner psyches, manifested in a perfectly crafted sex doll from Japan. She says the things that Cody is too scared to admit to herself. Things that may sound familiar.
She’s the voice you don’t want to hear. The one that questions yourself and your relationships, your direction and your purpose. The one that asks why you’re with your partner and how come you want that friend to find you attractive. The one that calls you on your bullshit in the most confronting way.
It’s that inner whisper that drips with more poisonous self-loathing than anyone else could ever level in your direction.
And that’s where the true genius of Dummy lies. Because despite all the gritty self-reflection it delivers in 8 minute intervals, you’re still left laughing.
The first three episodes of Dummy are now available on Quibi.
Last year a brand new streaming service called Quibi was announced in the U.S. Short for 'Quick Bites' it's different to competitors like Netflix or Stan because each episode of every show is less than 10 minutes long and can only be streamed on a mobile device. It just launched overseas and while it hadn't been confirmed for Australia yet, you can get it here right now legally and without a VPN.Read more