Listen, before you recycle your more articulate friend’s opinion that nostalgia has no place in our culture, allow me to make my case.
The American Girl doll is not merely a statement of a time one grew up, but a statement of personality. It’s been said a million times, half a million of them by me. Each original American Girl historical character came with six books that followed a year of their lives from ages nine to ten. By the time most of us had received one, if we were so fortunate, we’d practically outlived the timeline of the nine-year-old we slowly ruined the hair of through overbrushing (yes, you can overbrush your American Girl doll’s hair). So, what now? Here is my Major Literary Proposal: if the Rugrats are good enough to adapt into teenagers and Muppets good enough to be regressed into babies, then goddamn it, I can write a massively successful series about the American Girl dolls flailing twenty years after their story started.
Enclosed is my proposal, including a brief description of the American Girl as we knew them, and as they inevitably ended up twenty years later. Here is the “American Women” series.
Original Book Series Takes Place in: 1774, Revolutionary War Virginia
Her Deal: Tragic redhead horse girl who desperately tries to lose her virginity to the same horse through the course of her series. On one occasion utters the sentence, “I love you, I don’t want to rush you into anything you’re not ready for” to a horse she is trying to straddle in stolen pants. Pissed when her horse has to go to war, as if her perverted horse fetish is more important than American independence. Her nemesis is an elderly alcoholic named Jiggy Nye.
Best Friend: Elizabeth Cole, who in spite of her best efforts does not hold Felicity’s attention like the sexual spirit exuded by literally any horse.
Synopsis of Felicity 1794: American Woman: Twenty years after seducing Penny the horse out of alcoholic villain Jiggy Nye’s clutches, Felicity is on her deathbed succumbing to smallpox, already having outlived most of her friends at age 29 because apparently the printing press was a more urging societal need than bathing or throwing your family’s shit out of the window every morning. Felicity lays next to Penny 3, the grand-pony of Penny—who was hung in the town square after Felicity hastily blamed the horse for taking her virginity behind her father’s general store when she had masterminded and coerced the animal herself—in post-coital bliss, knowing the days of a young horse going down on her every morning to wake her up are numbered.
Her husband, the now 90-year-old Jiggy Nye, enters the room and sees the young bride who played hard-to-get for years before falling for the obvious charms of his being both elderly and an alcoholic disaster, giving her greatest gift away to yet another horse while covered in smallpox. He flips a table.
“You red-headed little chit!” he screamed at her, just as he did in Meet Felicity all those years ago. “I’ll skin you alive!” Felicity wiped the horse cum off her bare stomach and smiled. Yes, she remembered Jiggy Nye screaming those same words to her in his rancid whiskey breath just like it was yesterday. She dies then peacefully, albeit with some horse cum still on her decaying smallpox body.
Original Book Series Takes Place in: 1824 New Mexico
Her Deal: A shy girl living on a New Mexico ranch with her older sisters with her sad, horny dad after her mom passes away. Her bitter enemy is a goat, and then she and the goat become friends, which is kind of sad because it’s only because there’s no one else to hang out with besides her horny dad.
Best Friend: Florecita the reluctant bitch goat.
Synopsis of Josefina 1844: American Woman: After being extradited from her New Mexican ranch after a schism with her former goat ally Florecita resulted in the goat assuming her role in the family, Josefina moves to Washington D.C. and becomes a student of the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse.
While history would remember the first telegraph ever sent to read “What hath God wrought,” as penned by Morse, the colleagues secretly shared the private secret that the real first telegraph ever sent was from Josefina to Morse, reading, “Was just goin thru some old newspaper archives n found this tabloid piece about this grl who effed horses n married an old man named Jiggy. So weird n crazy. Come hang later i taught my new goat a trick lmao”
After she and Morse celebrate the success of their new invention with an invite-only, intimate but still unprotected orgy, Josefina took a brief moment for herself in her chambers only to discover a late-night telegram from New Mexico waiting for her.
“U there STOP?” the telegram read. Josefina racked her brains—her sad horny dad had died years ago, and her sisters had never learned to read or write. It couldn’t be—
“It da goat STOP,” came the next telegram. Josefina’s breath caught in her throat. It was da goat.
“Family don’t listen to goat STOP,” the telegram continued. “Please come back STOP. About to overdose on people food please 4giv me I thought I was doing right thing STOP.”
Josefina’s fingers lingered over the telegraph machine as she considered her response. After a moment, she decided that she didn’t have time for toxic people or goats in her life anymore, tore up Florecita’s suicide note and returned to the orgy with renewed energy.
Original Book Series Takes Place in: 1854 pioneer Minnesota
Her Deal: Young Swedish girl who immigrates to Minnesota with her family during the pioneer era, has a fairly gnarly immigration story but doesn’t make the wealthy families purchasing the doll uncomfortable because she is white and blonde.
Best Friend: Marta, who dies on the way to Minnesota and Kirsten is sad about it until she is given a new dress two days later, then completely forgets about her.
Synopsis of Kirsten 1874: American Woman: Kirsten stays in Minnesota even after her pioneer family slowly died off one by one, quickly recovering after buying a new dress and forgetting about them entirely. By age twenty-nine, Kirsten realizes that buying a new dress doesn’t just wipe the grief and memory of her loved ones—it can wipe virtually any traumatic memory at all.
Kirsten begins a murderous crime spree across the state, purchasing new dresses immediately after in order to forget the horrific crimes and also sex crimes that she has committed. While never caught, her signature phrase, “IT DA GOAT,” could be found written on the foreheads of all her victims in red lipstick for reasons even she could not explain.
After a particularly grisly murder at the annual Parade of the Redheaded Woman Who Fucked The Horse, Kirsten walks out of the dress shop with a new flannel number only to stumble across what appeared to be the ghost of a young girl.
“Marta?” Kirsten said, her voice cracking at the very possibility. It had been so many years but for the first time, she remembered, truly remembered a lost one. Following the stark image of Marta, lost to consumption two decades ago, came a tidal wave of guilt—had Kirsten really neglected to go to the funerals of any of her family members? Had she really bought a killer satin number and forgotten that she’d been briefly married to now-assassinated President Abraham Lincoln? Had she really killed over four hundred people over the course of her adult life? “Marta, is that you?”
The ghostly-looking child gave her a strange look. “What? No, my name is Carla. I’m just a dirty child.”
“Oh, I thought you were…” Kirsten said, embarrassed. “I thought you might be a ghost.”
“No, but I get that a lot,” responded Carla the dirty child, who preferred to go by Dirty Carla.
The two shook hands and went their separate ways, and Kirsten went on to kill thirteen hundred more people without feeling a thing.
Original Book Series Takes Place in: 1864 Civil War-torn North Carolina
Her Deal: Addy is a nine-year-old slave girl living with her family in North Carolina when her father and brother are sold, leaving her and her mother to escape to freedom on their own while having to leave Addy’s baby sister behind for the time being. Addy is the unsung queen of all the American Girls, actively helping to give her family the heads up that her father and Sam are being sold, saving her mother from drowning while escaping slavery and learning how to read and getting an education as the Civil War ends. Once you have been indoctrinated into all things Addy, you will want to tie resident brats Samantha Parkington and Molly McIntire to a flagpole and leave them for dead. All hail Addy.
Best Friend: Her baby sister Esther, who damn well better worship her big sister or I’ll flip out.
Synopsis of Addy Walker 1884: American Woman: After settling in New York City following the Civil War, Addy writes her memoirs, which immediately become bestsellers. Using the money, she is able to purchase her family a high-rise brownstone apartment in Manhattan, and allows a now-grown Esther to kickstart her career as an actress. She decided to write plays in a continued, concentrated effort to get peaceful reparations from those who had previously oppressed her on her own terms—for Addy, this was by writing boring, overly serious plays that were so solemn and dull that people assumed they were good and were able to charge outrageous ticket prices for mostly white audiences to pretend to understand them.
Adapting a pseudonym to avoid the inherent prejudice of the times, Addy began writing under the pen name “Henrik Ibsen,” hiring a Norwegian man with bizarre facial hair to act the part in public. After a string of hits that were well-done but like, you know, a little overly serious, Addy pulled from a story she remembered from her childhood, “The Redheaded Chit Who Had Sex With the Horse And Dammit All to Hell If We Know Why,” into a hit Broadway musical.
The show would become such a hit that a rave review would appear in the Cincinnati Enquirer penned by editor-in-chief Kit Kittredge, reading: “Well goddamn if that redhead wasn’t sexually addicted to horses in a way I found both disturbing and visceral, but the act one closer ‘Jiggy Nye’s A Pretty Nice Guy’ has had me tapping my toes ever since!”
Original Book Series Takes Place in: 1904 Edwardian America, upstate New York
Her Deal: Victorian billionaire child who has never heard of poor or nonwhite people at the beginning of her series. By the end of her series, she has heard of both but will never understand what struggle really is, in spite of having pleasant facial features. Also, she goes on vacation.
Best Friend: Nellie, the poor girl charity case Samantha takes under her wing because she’s not allowed to have a career.
Synopsis of Samantha Parkington 1924: American Woman: After outshining poor Nellie throughout their teens and into their university years, Samantha realizes that being rich and hot isn’t everything—you also have to learn what an adverb is and how to use it.
As Nellie grew into a fine and intelligent young woman, becoming the principal of a school for girls and deploying adverbs correctly and with regularity, she noticed her old friend Samantha’s despondency. Unlike their friends, Samantha hadn’t stopped binge drinking and calling learning what an adverb was “child’s play,” as they had in their teens. Instead, she’d leaned into her indulgent flapper lifestyle until Grandmary’s inheritance had dried up, been the common failing factor in a string of marriages gone by, and still was not aware that a word even could end in the suffix “-ly.”
In 1924, after years of siphoning money off Nellie and claiming to be the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, a book that hadn’t even been written yet, Samantha met a man in a hotel bar who was just what she was looking for. He was old and likely to die at any moment, entitling her to a massive fortune, unlikely to have a memory long enough to remember or care if she carried on with her dalliances, and named “Coopo,” a name that made her laugh because it was stupid.
Coopo felt the same way, mistaking the young woman for his lost love (Samantha’s grandmother, who had died of old age fifteen years ago). He took her hands in his withered ones. “Samantha, will you marry me?”
Samantha beamed. “Glad!” she responded.
Coopo frowned. “Glad? Don’t you mean, ‘gladly’? As in the adverb, ‘gladly?’”
Samantha panicked. “Of course,” she said quickly. “Of course that’s what I meant.”
Coopo relaxed. “Great. Let’s try again, then. Samantha, will you marry me?”
Taking a deep breath, Samantha feigned confidence. “Glad!”
“Good God,” Coopo said. “Even I, a wealthy elder with nothing to lose, could never be the husband of a woman who doesn’t even know what an adverb is, or how to use it.”
Original Book Series Takes Place in: 1934 Cincinnati, Great Depression era
Her Deal: Kit is the tomboy aspiring journalist helping to keep her family’s spirit up as their upper middle class home is converted into a boarding house during the peak of the Great Depression. Her most prided quality is her practicality, which she displays time and time again by helping her mother run the boarding house, seeking out job leads for her dad and brother and giving up her room for boarders to make her own alcove in the attic. While she’s a good friend and a dogged reporter, she’s not afraid to editorialize or to bully a sickly child and blame him for all her problems. Kit rules.
Best Friend: Ruthie Smithens, ostensible Watson to Kit’s Holmes. Also, Teen Hobo Will, who appears in fifth installment Kit Saves the Day and is described as follows:
“Will is a hobo from Texas, about sixteen years old when he is first seen. He grew up on a farm in Texas. When the Depression hit, he left his family so as to give them one less mouth to feed.
Will is hardworking, and is willing to work for food. He’s good at square dancing.”
Synopsis of Kit Kittredge 1954: American Woman: Following the Great Depression and her Dad’s suicide (his last words were, “Shucks, I can’t do anything right!”), Kit goes onto become the first female editor-in-chief of the Cincinnati Enquirer. In memory of her father, she changes the paper’s slogan to, “Shucks, the Cincinnati Enquirer can’t do anything right!”
In the biggest story of her career, Kit doggedly tracks down the notorious Square Dancing killer, who she is shocked to discover is her lost friend Hobo Will.
“Hobo Will, I thought you got an inheritance when your uncle got hit by that freighter!” Kit exclaimed. Her gut was telling her to call the police, but her heart was telling her to hook up with Hobo Will, who was still hot and also still a hobo.
“I did,” responded Hobo Will, flashing a devilish smile that implied he was both hardworking and willing to work for food. “But the hobo lifestyle is like a second skin to me. Well, besides the skins of those I have killed.”
“Hobo Will, why did you kill those people?” Kit knew letting him go would be the biggest loss of her career, but couldn’t help but want to know more. Any good reporter would.
“Well, Kit Kittredge, the answer to that question ties right into the hobo creed,” said Hobo Will, shuffling a little one-man square dance. “One less mouth to feed.”
“Oh, Hobo Will,” Kit answered, a rare tear falling from her eye. “That’s not what that means.”
Hobo Will paused, contemplative. “Well god dang,” he responded in wonder. “That’s hobo logic for you. I guess I won’t be killin’ no more, and I deeply apologize for the misunderstanding. I am good at square dancing.”
Kit and Hobo Will eventually married and Hobo Will would work as a stringer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, being compensated in food. They had two children, Dirty Carla and Hobo Will Junior.
Original Book Series Takes Place in: 1944 suburban Illinois, World War II
Her Deal: Objectively the least conventionally attractive and most annoying American Girl, it is hard to not hold Molly’s garbage personality and appearance against her. She’s a middle child living in the city with her family during World War II, her dad is a hot doctor working overseas and Molly threatens her close friends no less than three times in the first installment of her series. While I subscribe to the “polite women rarely make history” school of thinking, self-centered jackasses who don’t know how good they have it can eat my ass. It’s a balancing act.
Allegedly Emily Bennett, but I bet she’s just hanging out with her because she has a crush on Molly’s older brother. Molly sucks.
Synopsis of Molly McIntire 1945: American Woman: Molly never lives to see twenty years from her book series. After everyone in her neighborhood plots behind her back over a course of months, Molly McIntire is mercifully harpooned by alleged best friend Emily Bennett on D-Day. No charges are filed, as the American justice system declared the crime warranted on the basis of never shutting the fuck up.
Jamie Loftus is a comedian and writer. You can find her some of the time, most days at @hamburgerphone or jamieloftusisinnocent.com.