Forky (Tony Hale) apparently asked another question, this week, “what is a leader?,” on Disney+’s series of shorts, Forky Asks a Question. You wouldn’t know he was asking a question though because he spends the entire time annoying the absolute stuffing out of Dolly (Bonnie Hunt). Dolly is the leader of Bonnie’s toys, so overhearing Forky mention leadership, she butts in to give a spiel on leadership.
I don’t remember Dolly much from the films since she never gets the spotlight the main characters do, but I also don’t remember her being originally portrayed as prideful or full of herself the way that she is portrayed in this short. Dolly is likely the leader of Bonnie’s toys on account of being her oldest and most favorite toy, but she clearly exhibits stills on par with Woody’s during Toy Story 4. Reducing her to an annoying nag who shows off really rubs me the wrong way.
Subtle sexism aside, and I know Forky aficionado and regular reviewer Lizzy would vehemently disagree but she’s not here to stop me, I think this episode was absolutely hilarious. Yes, I also think that the episode “What is Love?” deserved an 11/10, but hear me out on this one. Forky immediately drops any interest in learning what a leader is after he learns the phrase “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” from Dolly. He vows it will be the only thing he says for the rest of the day.
Of course, Forky sticks to his guns and blurts it out with perfect comedic timing over and over again, driving Dolly crazy and driving me to cackling tears. It’s juvenile, yes, but so is everything about Forky Asks a Question. The episodes don’t always have a clear target audience, but they always lean towards slapstick humor and childish jokes. Forky’s timing and the writing by Bob Peterson are a complete masterclass in timing jokes. Every cookie crumbling outburst is delivered by Hale in just the right way, making them hilarious instead of infuriating.
The real zinger though is the background music and the conga line of tiny toys that just dance their way around the episode for absolutely no reason whatsoever except to contribute to the comedic timing of everything. Without this extra kernel of comedy, the episode may have fallen more flat. With it though, it’s honestly comedy gold.
Unfortunately, the way that Dolly is used made into a terrible stereotype for a bossy girl boss is irredeemable and drives this otherwise genius of an episode down several notches for me. It’s not hard to portray a female leader as competent while also not making her confidence into a cudgel. Yes, her personality paid off with some funny bits at the end, but the comedy should never have been at the expense of the viewer’s respect for Dolly.
“What is a Leader?” is available now on Disney+.
'Forky Asks a Question,' Season 1, Episode 7 - What is a Leader?
Unfortunately, the way that Dolly is used made into a terrible stereotype for a bossy girl boss is irredeemable and drives this otherwise genius of an episode down several notches for me. Yes, her personality paid off with some funny bits at the end, but the comedy should never have been at the expense of the viewer’s respect for Dolly.
Pop culture is cool, but have you ever tried analyzing it through a historical and cultural lens so that you can not only understand the content more deeply, but be able to apply lessons to your own life through the act of criticizing it? No? Just me? Oh… Well, your loss. When I’m not editing the podcast or musing the effects media have on our lives, I’m off working to develop sustainable food systems. So remember, individual consumer choices won’t save the planet, Black lives matter and reparations must be paid, and remember to think critically about the pop culture you consume!