Fun, games, and foul play: true crime and toys

Marlene Sharp
4 min readApr 1
Toys and true crime are a match made in heaven! Toys and fictional crime are beautiful bedfellows, too!

Spring has sprung! In somewhat similar fashion, the corporate world has sprung a leak, in the form of layoffs. In this author’s opinion, the dramatic workforce reduction breeds a HUNGER GAMES-like atmosphere in the toy biz, the kids’ content landscape, and office culture at large. By HUNGER GAMES, think SQUID GAME-lite: back-stabb-y, finger-pointy, tattle-tale-y interactions amongst survivors of a downsizing apocalypse . . . The subjects at hand are erstwhile fine folks who are fated to become ex-office mates and new job competitors. For some of these sad sacks, no micro-aggression is too large (or too small); what matters is that one keeps one’s job, whether one needs the income or likes the work. The point is to WIN. Highly personal case studies are available upon request.

In honor of this nail-bitingly real situation, let’s celebrate the silver lining of pretty much everything bad: true crime. Percolating discontent oft leads to law breaking, which is the fuel of great storytelling, which begets epic true crime podcasting, non-fiction filming, and based-on-real-events retelling. Here are a few guilty-pleasure-filled narrative non-fiction audio examples: Wondery’s SCAMFLUENCERS and EVEN THE RICH; Campside Media and Sony Music’s INFAMOUS; and investigative journalist Javier Leiva’s brilliant PRETEND, especially the arc that unmasks the perverse con artistry of Frank “Catch Me If You Can” Abagnale.

Fun fact: the toy industry has its own unique set of newsworthy transgressions, felonious deeds, and international incidents. There’s a dedicated installment of the podcast WINE AND CRIME to prove it; see “Toy Crimes” (April 30, 2020, episode 168). This one-off offers a taste of skeletons in the toy closet, and they are not plastic, nor are they relegated to the seasonal section of favorite retail outlets! These skeletons have truth in their bones.

Toy crimes seem to have reached maturation. They deserve their own show. These cautionary tales are ripe for audio and screen treatment, and yours truly claims them all for a yet-to-be- realized magnum opus. As proof of concept, here are ideas for the first few episodes, whose loglines are simultaneously en route to the US Copyright Office and the Writers Guild (WGA). Please shelve thoughts of CHIP ’N’ DALE: RESCUE RANGERS-style intellectual property…

Marlene Sharp

Marlene Sharp is a creative and business-savvy entertainment multi-hyphenate who originally hails from New Orleans but is now a (San Fernando) Valley girl.