Contains major spoilers
Hulu’s Dollface follows Jules (Kat Dennings) after she’s abruptly dumped by her boyfriend of five years. After realizing she’s abandoned her whole life for this guy, she decides to reconnect with her estranged friends Madison (Brenda Song) and Stella (Shay Mitchell) and her co-worker Izzy (Esther Povitsky).
At first glance, the series seems like a loose hybrid between Sex and the City and The Bold Type, in that it attempts to explore themes of friendship, womanhood, and feminism. It just doesn’t do it very well.
When Jules first resumes life post-breakup, she finds that her typically-occupied weekends have suddenly become empty. She drives aimlessly only to find herself in a sterile and unpromising environment known as “Nowhere to Be” (as she imagines it). Here she encounters a Cat Lady who counsels her to join Stella and Madison “where all good women go on Sunday mornings,” or, in other words, the Church of Brunch. The scene unfolds with women praising the gluten-free lifestyle, gossiping, and arguing over mimosas and Bloody Marys.
The sequence reinforces the clichéd perception of what millennial women ought to be doing with their weekends. It’s as if the writers scrolled through Instagram or Pinterest to find out what the “youngins” are doing these days. Of course, anyone who actually is a millennial knows that this is merely a very narrow view of how women spend their time, and one that mainly only applies to women who are privileged, wealthy, beautiful per societal constructs, and heterosexual.
The clichés continue as the friends struggle with the characterizes that others have imposed on them. Jules worries she is the “boring” one, Stella applies to business school to prove she’s more than a “fun friend”, Madison deflects from being “overbearing,” and Izzy wants to avoid being “basic.”
Although Dollface acknowledges that women are often unfairly labeled — which is a good start — it fails to actually rectify the problem. Instead, the show forces the women to try and change themselves. They could have gone in so many directions with this one. It would have been great if the women had discussed how labels can impact one’s mental health. But instead, the episode concluded with a watered-down reunion about accepting one’s self.
While Dollface has its sprinkling of clever and charming moments, it, unfortunately, misses the very issue it sets out to deconstruct. No matter how many millennial jokes or references they try to make, they ultimately fail at creating relatable, complex female characters with genuine friendships. And sadly, not even the group of talented actresses they’ve assembled can save it.