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  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Critics who complain about the dolls, books, and movies often bring this up. "I just don't get it. How could a doll line aimed at eight-to-twelve-year-old girls, just when they're being pressured to give up dolls and grow up faster, setting out to teach them about the Civil War or the Great Depression, and sitting at a high price point... be popular?"
  • Awesome Art: The Historical Characters' book illustrations are not only very pretty to look at, but they reflect the time period and setting. For example, the family portraits in Molly's books are in black and white, and have borders designed to look like an old photo album. The portraits in Kirsten's series (until they were changed) are the only ones to have full-body images of the families, and have full background images as well.
  • Awesome Music: The accompanying background music for the defunct online game "Kirsten's Winter Stars" was absolutely gorgeous.
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    • The soundtrack to Felicity's movie has some lovely fiddle and whistle tunes as well.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Characters that people are sharply divided on vary, but two of the biggest are Molly (some fans find her a realistic view of a child during World War II while others see her as too much of an Attention Whore, bratty and self-centered, and a weak example of home life) and Samantha (some consider her a brave, strong girl who was a child's first foray into social concerns and feminist history while others consider her a spoiled rich girl who receives much more attention than other characters in the line).
    • Modern dolls—both the LE Girls of the Year and the modern Truly Me line with unnamed characters—can be hit and miss. Some people feel that they expand the line and allow different perspectives and character creation, while others consider any and all modern lines to be "detracting" from the original message of history launched by Pleasant Rowland.
    • Most people either hate Logan Everett for introducing a male character into a line aimed at girls and taking focus, not to mention using a face mould that was only intended for Kaya rather than a generic mould note , or adore him for a sign of American Girl branching out past the all-girl ensembles and targeting other audiences. There are few in-betweens.
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    • Addy, the franchise's only black doll until the releases of Cécile Rey in 2011 and Melody in 2016, is a controversial character, both celebrated for representing black girls and criticized for painfully reducing black history to slavery. This article goes into more detail about it, both how the then-Pleasant Company sought black writers, artists, and advisors and how those same people clashed with the company's often ignorant higher-ups and struggled to do the job they were hired to do as a result. As one commenter put it, "Would you really want the only doll to which your child can relate to be a story about how her ancestors were being raped, beaten and exploited while worrying if you would ever see a second doll?" Addy fans, however, point out that that's not the story; people who reduce her to "slave doll" ignore that escaping was her origin (and the line goes hard on that, never having made any side stories or merchandise set before her escape) and her story isn't about being a slave at all, it's about her life in freedom.
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  • Broken Base: Pleasant Company items vs. Mattel's (to the point that "Pre-Mattel" is often seen as a value judgment rather than a plain, unbiased term, and some areas of fandom caution to avoid the term); the BeForever relaunch, which some collectors find a a unnecessary change in character designs and book changes while others feel that the relaunch gave new breath into the line and refocused the line on the age-range of eight-to-twelve year old girls as the primary audience; any character from a later time period than the 1940s, particularly among people who actually lived through their decade (some feel like they're being called old by their childhood being marketed as historical, while others find the post-'40s dolls nostalgic and note that even the modern line was initially marketed saying that all time was history, including the present).
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Lindsey was sold until the end of 2002. She had terrible sales when available, yet ironically she's one of the most sought-out dolls by collectors nowadays.
    • Julie and Maryellen reportedly prop up the entire historical line by themselves, and whenever Samantha has been an active character (not archived or cubed), she's reliably raked in the cash.
  • Even Better Sequel: Samantha: An American Girl Holiday was, by all accounts, thoroughly good. But its successor, Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, well surpassed it in quality thanks to a universally talented cast, with the Oscar-winning Marcia Gay Harden (Mrs. Merriman) and a young Shailene Woodley (Felicity herself) in particular standing out for their luminous performances.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The Kit Kittredge film coincided with the late 2000s recession, and during filming, one of the cast members told producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas that her friend also lost their home in a similar foreclosure.
    • Seeing how well-to-do Samantha and her family are is this considering what would happen just 25 years after the series' events take place.
    • In Samantha's movie, when Nellie (who had lost her mother the previous year) learns that both of Samantha's parents are dead, she comments, "That's awful, I don't know what I'd do without my Da." Nellie's father dies towards the end of the movie.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • One of the illustrations for Happy Birthday, Addy! features a wooden ice cream maker/mixer labeled "Ice King".
    • In "A Light in the Cellar, A Molly Mystery", Jill claims that soybean casserole is "unfit for human consumption". Flash forward to present day where soybeans are among the most genetically modified foods in existence and several health professionals discourage consuming them.
    • In "Happy Birthday, Samantha!", after Samantha and her friends have ice cream full of salt, and Cornelia asks Agatha and the girls "Why do you all look so sour?", Samantha replies "Not sour, salty." This was long before it became popular on the internet to use said word to describe someone in a foul mood.
    • In Samantha: An American Girl Holiday, Aunt Cornelia gives Samantha a copy of The Wizard of Oz the first time they meet. A decade later, the same actress would appear on Once Upon a Time as... The Wicked Witch of the West.
    • Molly sharing a name with Molly Schultz, one of the antagonists in Grand Theft Auto V, could be dismissed as a mere coincidence, but anyone who has read Spy On The Home Front would notice that Molly befriended a girl named Anna Schulz and her family, whose father Fritz worked at a garage in a town named Weston. Not to mention that both Mollys are brunettes and wear glasses, if that's any indication.
    • In 2016, Filipino politician Jejomar Binay accused senator Grace Poe—who was at the time running for president—of being an "American girl" due to concerns about her citizenship and her status as a natural-born Filipino. Not only that there existed an American Girl named Grace, Olivia Rodrigo, the actress who portrayed her in the direct-to-video film, is also of Filipino descent.
    • After WandaVision and Agnes whose real name turns out to be Agatha, it'd be easy to snicker at Cornelia's twin sisters (also Samantha's same-aged aunts and friends) Agnes and Agatha.
  • Les Yay: A lot of people see some or all of the Best Friends relationships as Romantic Two Girl Friendships or a precursor to more. This is helped by the fact that the books tend to emphasize the importance of strong bonds between young girls and never focus on boy problems. Then there are the main characters with the My Journey girls... especially Samantha and Ruby, who in one story path switch clothes and in another sneak out to go swimming in their underwear.
    • Particularly common subtext-reading is seen with Felicity/Elizabeth, Samantha/Nellie (though the former's family adopts the latter...), and Molly/Emily.
  • Memetic Mutation: At least some of the characters from the series ended up in a number of Hitler Rants parodies on YouTube. Some of the characters who appeared in the parodies, namely Felicity and Kit, were depicted as way off-character, either ending up being a Troll in the vein of Fegelein, as in the case of Felicity, or ranting like a maniac like Kit and Samantha.
    • "Kirsten gets eaten by a bear!" (She doesn't, but she does encounter one in her summer book.)
    • Courtney did MooreExplanation 
  • Misaimed Fandom: American Girls Premiere, a computer game released in the late '90s that gave players the ability to write and perform plays about the various historical protagonists and their families and friends. It was supposed to be educational, but it was hard to take the game seriously between the creepy robot voices and the strange movements (characters could even float or walk through walls, and even normal gestures were always exaggerated). As a result, way more people used the game for parodies, Downfall spoofs and poop jokes than for its intended purpose, helped along by the game's almost total lack of a word blacklist.
    • LGR did a review on it, where he mentioned it was one of the most amusing dick joke simulators. The comments on the video mention all sorts of unusual productions people made, like people falling down the stairs, murder "mysteries", and swear words. You could also record your own dialogue with your voice... which resulted in all sorts of unusual screams.
  • Narm: Jiggy Nye beating Penny in the Felicity movie.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • In the first Addy book, the slave driver makes her eat slugs off the tobacco plants.
    • In Samantha's movie, a boy working in a factory gets his finger caught in a machine.
    • The American Girl magazine runs a story contest every year. One year, the winning story was about someone who befriends a mysterious girl down by the lake. At the end, the mysterious girl turns out to be a malevolent ghost. The ghost drowns the main character, who then takes the ghost's place, waiting for the next victim to wander by.
    • One for doll owners: In some older dolls, the internal parts of one or both eyes may come unglued due to heat or liquid exposure, resulting in a rather scary-looking effect called silver eye. Thankfully, the Doll Hospital will fix it at no cost.
  • One True Threesome: Kit and her best friends, Ruthie and Stirling, are sometimes read this way; the more liberal end of fandom has fanon establishing them as growing up to be a polyamorous triad.
    • The same liberal end of the fandom applies the same logic to the girl of the year Chrissa, and her two "girlfriends" Gwen and Sonali, making them a modern triad.
  • Periphery Demographic: American Girl actually has a lot of fans who are adult women, often doll collectors. They can often be the strictest fans, especially those young women who got into the dolls as kids and apply the Nostalgia Filter. This can also lead to some of the... scarier parts of the fandom.
  • Porting Disaster: The Android port of WellieWishers: Garden Fun, was particularly egregious as it flat-out crashes on certain devices due to an error with the Unity engine powering it. And it got even worse when [x]cube Games released version 1.1, to which no device was able to run it for some reason. It didn't help that Garden Fun is an Allegedly Free Game requiring in-app purchases to unlock minigames and is nothing more than a social "clicker" game at its core, both of which have been controversial business models especially with games aimed at children.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Both the Julie and Kit games for the Nintendo DS were given scathing reviews. The American Girls Premiere PC game was a different story, though, being that it was unintentionally hilarious.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The first two films introduced two young actresses who would go on to achieve, if not superstardom, then certainly a lot of success in their acting careers, nearly a decade before they became famous; Samantha Parkington was played by a nine-year-old AnnaSophia Robb, and Felicity Merriman was played by a fourteen-year-old Shailene Woodley.
    • Regarding the Girl of the Year Direct to Video movies, Olivia Rodrigo had her start in the movie Grace Stirs up Success as Grace Thomas (the 2015 Girl of the year) before her appearance in Disney Channel's Bizaardvark. Rodrigo later gained critical acclaim for her Billboard chart-topping single "Driver's License".
    • Future Golden Globe nominee Kaitlyn Dever had her film debut as Gwen in Chrissa Stands Strong.
  • The Scrappy: Kailey. The hate she gets is so bad that it spreads over to any character whose story has an environmentalist message, like Julie or Lanie.
    • Tenney Grant gets a lot of hate as well, largely for (allegedly) being the planned Girl of the Year for 2017, only to be replaced by Gabriella note  instead (and as a result, Gabriella's collection and story were both rushed, and the doll herself was just a retired "Truly Me" doll). After Tenney was released a month after Gabriella as a "contemporary character", AG basically pushed Gabriella to the side to focus on Tenney instead.
    • Replacement Scrappy: Agnes and Agatha, who shifted Nellie to the side to be "safe" friends for Samantha who weren't walking metaphors for classism and the bad parts of the Edwardian era. Caroline also got a lot of this for replacing Felicity (and being blonde and wearing pink and full gowns), as has Nanea for daring to share a time period with the long-archived Molly (even if Molly was rereleased twice after Nanea came out, so you could get both at once).
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Felicity/Ben versus Felicity/Elizabeth. The former camp cites the age rating and historical attitudes as evidence for why its opponent will never be canon, whereas the latter camp shoots back with modern attitudes' squick over the age gap between Felicity and Ben.
    • Occasionally, elements of the ships' opposing supporters sometimes bury their differences by proposing a triad of Felicity/Ben/Elizabeth.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Whoo boy. Mattel took over from Pleasant Company in 1998, and remodeled the dolls and outfits as well as retiring a lot of items. In some corners of fandom, anything made after 1998 is utter crap.
    • The revamp of the Historical Line with BeForever has led to this opinion in some places. Much like "pre-Mattel," "pre-Beforever"/"post-Beforever" is considered a loaded term in the fandom.
    • Even more so with the so-called "permapanties" i.e. permanently-stitched underwear, done by AG as a cost-cutting measure among other things. Needless to say, fans were livid over the change, occasionally comparing it to New Coke or Windows 8's start screen in terms of unnecessary change to a well-established product. Aftermarket doll accessory makers responded with conversion kits for worn-out or permapantied dolls, though. And in the same vein as Coca-Cola and Microsoft, AG since announced that they would discontinue the permapanties, mere months after it was first announced.
    • While the drastic changes to the plot in Molly's and Kit's movies were largely considered entertaining and still kept the core of the story (it helps that Molly's books have a lot of detractors who found her and her story much better in the film), when they did it to Melody, whose books were lauded by the fans who read them, reception was not as kind. By making the lead more outspoken and assertive than the Shrinking Violet she was in the books, taking her dad out of the picture, and moving the focus from being a story about black community to being about integrating into a white school, the movie was criticized for turning a more unique story that went against stereotypes to a borderline racist cliché that felt it had to shove a bunch of white kids in to get people to watch. (And on a much less serious note, it barely showed any of the outfits the Melody doll had and gave her glasses, which really didn't help the feeling of the AG licence being slapped onto an unrelated movie at the last minute, even if it wasn't.) The later Amazon specials were Truer to the Text; Ivy & Julie switched around the roles of main character and sidekick, but still kept the plot of the books it was adapting.
  • Unfortunate Implications: It's happened a few times, such as the famous incident where Marisol was criticized for moving out of the inner city because it was unsafe and therefore making her old neighborhood (a real place) look bad. Years later with another Girl of the Year, news magazines in 2009 tried to play this up and create a controversy out of minor character Gwen, labelling her "the homeless doll", even though she gets a place to move into partway through the first book she's in, we don't even know she was homeless until The Reveal near the end of said book, and she's not even the main character (that'd be Chrissa).
  • Values Dissonance: Depending on one's values, some of the discussion in Rebecca to the Rescue could serve to rankle. Rebecca, Sadie and Sophie complain about variously being told they can't read from the Torah or throw a ball well because they're girls, with the idea being that this is the way things are because it's 1914. Fair enough, but there's the fact that the girls are all Jews, and given when Reform and Conservative movements within Judaism rose When? , it's likely the situation the girls are in is a result of their being Orthodox Jews rather than just the realities of their time. Readers of the book and fans of the American Girl franchise overall may be chafed by this serving as an example of how some aspects of life in America haven't changed over time, considering how the franchise is headlined by progressive girls whose spirits exemplify those who have paved the path American history has taken.
  • The Woobie: Nellie O'Malley has a very poor home life compared to Samantha, who also happens to be an orphan.
    • Emily, especially in Molly's movie. Not only has she witnessed firsthand the terrible effects the war has done to her life in England (bombed out houses, taking refuge in the subway tunnels from the blitzkrieg, the death of her mother), she even has a nightmare about being attacked.
    • Kaya: the girl gets called "Magpie", she had to leave her sister and horse behind with their captors, she loses her mentor, and she often doubts if she's really a worthy person.
    • Addy, who was born into slavery, watches both her brother and father get sold away by the sadistic Master Stevens, and is even forced to eat worms from the tobacco leaves after the overseer finds one that she missed. Although she and her mother escape from slavery, and start a living in Philadelphia, she realizes that their life of "freedom" isn't what they hoped for, due to racial segregation- and even faces brutal prejudice in "Happy Birthday Addy," when going to the other side of town to buy medicine. While she and her other family members are reunited at the end of "Changes for Addy," she loses her beloved Uncle Solomon (who died before he was even reunited with them), and, shortly after, Auntie Lula.

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