Kids love the concept of “unboxing,” which has become widely popular thanks to countless YouTube videos. That’s one of the many reasons why the new DreamWorks Animation show Gabby’s Dollhouse is getting so much buzz.
But this isn’t a show where kids open boxes to reveal the latest toy or game. Gabby’s Dollhouse is about children opening up their own imagination and discovering the real gifts inside.
Inside Gabby’s Dollhouse
Inspired by the bestselling book Mindset by Carol Dwek, Gabby’s Dollhouse is a hybrid live-action/animated series. Gabby, the human host, unboxes a story in each episode, taking viewers into her fantastic animated dollhouse as well as other mini-worlds that are filled with cute kitty characters.
All of this happens while nurturing a growth mindset and out-of-the-box thinking for young viewers. There are also plenty of DIY crafting projects and games that allow kids to unbox their creativity at home.
Show creators Traci Paige Johnson and Jennifer Twomey, whose credits include popular shows like Blue’s Clues, Team Umizoomi, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, tell Parentology that they were fascinated by the unboxing phenomenon and knew how much kids love watching these videos over and over.
“One of the things we were excited about was taking that excitement of opening a surprise, and instead of making it about opening a product we wanted to make it about opening a story,” says Twomey.
In creating the show, Johnson tells Parentology that they took the things they liked from their childhood — like dollhouses and miniatures — and incorporated them into the show. They combined them with the unboxing aspect because it modernizes what kids of today love.
One of the most fun parts of the show for the creators is the concept of the delivery device. Kids see the box coming down and the fun theme that comes along with it. Then they get to unbox the story with Gabby and that’s the catalyst for the episode.
“That, to us, embodies what makes the show signature and different from anything else out there,” says Johnson.
Another big part of the show is inspiring kids to turn their mistakes into something creative. Gabby has a signature phrase “We failed fantastically.” This helps to encourage kids to not beat themselves up when they make a mistake, but rather to use their imaginations to solve problems and use flexible thinking.
For Johnson, that the idea of extended play and kids using their imagination is a big part of the message they’re trying to get across. “They turn off the tablet or computer and they make their own cat ears or glitter jars, or go back to their dollhouses and create their own stories,” she says.
WATCH: Interview with Laila Lockhart Kraner
The cast includes Laila Lockhart Kraner as Gabby and Tucker Chandler as Pandy Paws. Parentology’s cub reporter, Otto Staudenmaier, got the opportunity to interview Laila to find out what it’s like being an animated character, what it takes to make an animated/live-action episode, and if she has any pets of her own.
Gabby’s Dollhouse from DreamWorks kicks off its first season on Netflix, January 5 with eight 22-minute episodes. Watch the trailer below and learn more on the show’s website.