What Is a Reborn Doll?

Baby.

A reborn doll.
Photo: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

In Servant, before you learn the wealthy couple’s names at the center of the Apple TV+ show, or even get an unobscured view of them, you think: baby. As opening credits roll in the first episode, a woman leans over a crib in a dimly lit nursery with a white rocking chair and wooden rocking horse. Then, the doorbell rings: Dorothy and her partner, Sean, are greeting a woman they’ve hired to be a live-in nanny. But as the episode progresses, viewers find out that Dorothy’s baby died when he was 13 weeks old — and what she’s been caring for is actually a “reborn,” a realistic doll closely modeled after an infant.

The concept of a realistic doll is nothing new (and in fact, a recent lawsuit alleges that the plot of Servant, reborn and all, is too similar to the 2013 film The Truth About Emanuel). Reborns, as they’re known within the community, have been created and collected by a vibrant group of artists and enthusiasts for quite some time. The reborn community is lively on YouTube, where collectors share “unboxing” videos, as well as influencer-style home videos. In one titled “Reborn Iyla’s Morning Routine,” a woman changes her reborn’s diaper and shows off the doll’s accessories, including a fully stocked diaper caddy. “I know that these dolls are not real,” reads a disclaimer at the video’s beginning. “This is just role-playing on camera for fun and entertainment.” Participants seeking similar content also look to Instagram and private Facebook groups, where creators show off dolls they’ve handcrafted and collected.