Is it gay to live with your best friend in the woods selling flowers and singing about spending the rest of your lives together? Maybe not, but “Barbie and the Diamond Castle” protagonists Alexa and Liana are often considered to be among the first cottage-core lesbians for doing just that.
Dressed in pink and blue outfits that resemble the Lesbian and Bisexual Pride flags a little too well, Alexa and Liana lead lives rich with happiness, if not money. Together in their home, the girls are content with their meager bread-and-jam sandwiches so long as they have each other. But when a magic mirror and the muse trapped within reveal an evil plan to overthrow the Diamond Castle, Alexa and Liana must set out to defend music with only the power of their love to protect them.
The movie presents this love as one of friendship, but viewers have been quick to call “Barbie and the Diamond Castle” the piece of queer cinema that it is. Even if Alexa and Liana are canonically straight, their “friendship” becomes so much more when viewed through a queer lens.
When the audience first meets Alexa and Liana, they are picking flowers from their garden while singing about their love for each other––and not a friendly type of love. The song “Two Voices One Song” is painted as a platonic anthem, but with lyrics like “If I could wish for one thing, I’d take the smile that you bring / Wherever you go in this world I’ll come along,” the subtext is obviously romantic.
But this isn’t the girls’ only love song. Not five minutes later, Alexa and Liana sing “Connected” to express their love for each other yet again. Moving in perfect harmony, the girls dance around their garden singing lyrics like “Every time that I breathe / I can feel the energy” and “But now we’re so close I can always find you / Right here in my heart.” Even without the choreographed dance routine, it’s obvious their relationship runs deeper than being just friends.
Roommates or Lovers?
Beyond just singing love songs, the girls cohabitate as a romantic couple would. They live in the same house, sleep in the same room, and spend every waking moment in each other’s company. Their dialogue is filled with flirtatious inside jokes and joint fantasies of their ongoing lives together. Even household chores become romantic when Alexa, teasing Liana for not doing the dishes, playfully chases the girl around the kitchen with a soapy dishcloth. Whether the girls are dreaming of attending royal balls or talking about what to have for lunch, Alexa and Liana are clearly more than just roommates.
Later in “Barbie and the Diamond Castle,” twin brothers Ian and Jeremy are introduced as the girls’ assumed love interests. However, it is definitely not love at first sight. Not only do the boys fail to arrive until over halfway through the movie, but, upon first meeting, Liana and Alexa don’t even appear to like them.
Ian and Jeremy, a performing team who showed up more than fashionably late to a restaurant gig, approach Liana and Alexa while they’re eating dinner. Consumed by their own believed charisma, they perform an on-the-spot song for the girls complete with lyrics such as “Hear the song you belong / With lads like us.” The girls are visibly unamused by the performance, continually sneaking glances at each other and avoiding eye contact with the boys; their animal companions, dogs Sparkles and Lilly, even roll their eyes at the cocky performance.
It is clear to everybody but the twins that Alexa and Liana are uninterested, yet the boys remain in the movie. Ian and Jeremy are obviously presented as romantic interests, but they function more like plot devices: From dragon distractions to well-timed transportation, the boys are easily forgotten by viewers. Even a classic fairytale waltz at the end of the movie can’t sell the supposed love story between Alexa and Liana and the twins. They simply have no chemistry.
The girls’ romantic-coded relationship sails through “Barbie and the Diamond Castle,” but the journey is not always smooth. During the final leg of their trek to the Diamond Castle, Alexa and Liana, exhausted from days’ worth of travel, stumble upon a mansion offering permanent sanctuary. Alexa sees the beautiful dresses and tables full of food and decides she wants to stay, but Liana can’t so easily forget her promise to the muse, Melody. In this climactic scene, the girls fight over the decision, and Liana storms out of the mansion, abandoning Alexa as she promised never to do.
This scene reads just like a breakup: Alexa is jealous that Liana chose Melody over her, Liana is resentful that Alexa would prioritize herself over saving the Diamond Castle and both girls are miserable afterward. For these “friends” who have spent their whole lives together, the sudden separation is heartbreaking. Liana tells Melody, “I feel like a part of me is gone.” For both Alexa and Liana, their parting feels unnatural. The girls will eventually reconcile and forgive each other, but their temporary split demonstrates just how intimate their relationship has always been.
In one of the sweeter moments of “Barbie and the Diamond Castle,” Alexa and Liana find two identical heart-shaped stones in the creek behind their cottage. The stones come from the Diamond Castle and possess musical magic that will protect the girls from the movie’s central villain, but Alexa and Liana don’t know that yet; all the girls know is that these stones feel connected to each other — just like them.
Calling the hearts a “perfect match,” Liana turns the stones into necklaces for her and Alexa. Much like the exchange of promise rings, this moment between the girls is filled with a tenderness characteristic of romantic relationships, not platonic ones. The matching necklaces represent the love between Alexa and Liana and symbolize their relationship throughout the movie.
Queer audiences are drawn to “Barbie and the Diamond Castle” because, though Alexa and Liana are canonically straight, their movie is one of sapphic love. Unlike other children’s tales that push a prince-and-princess love story, “Barbie and the Diamond Castle” prioritize female relationships, showing two strong leads who are truly happy with each other. Both at home in their floral cottage and out defending the Diamond Castle, Alexa and Liana’s love protects them from evil and ultimately saves the day. When all is said and done, “Barbie and the Diamond Castle” is a story of two girls who live happily ever after, even if the movie will only ever call them friends.