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Mattel is making toys into movies. What if they became these 8 reality shows instead?

Mattel is making toys into movies. What if they became these 8 reality shows instead?
Zombie dolls—or what I imagine a crossover between The Evil Dead and Barbie might look like. (Photo by Jen Theodore/Unsplash)

The toy company Mattel is filming a live-action Barbie film, starting Margot Robbie, and announced today that J.J. Abrams will produce a live-action Hot Wheels film.

A press release said Mattel will be turning more toys—from Barbie to many kids’ first experience with sorcery—into feature films:

In addition to Hot Wheels, the Mattel Films development slate features movies based on American Girl, Barbie, Barney, Magic 8 Ball, Major Matt Mason, Masters of the Universe, Polly Pocket, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Thomas & Friends, UNO, View Master, and Wishbone.

Earlier this year, Variety report said movies based on Big Jim and Betsy Wetsy are also on the way. That’s a lot of movies, and we’ll see if any of them can match the cinematic excellence of, say, the Transformers franchise.

But wouldn’t some of these make better reality TV shows? I think so.

Mattel has already been in the reality TV game, sponsoring the two seasons of an ABC reality competition, while rival Hasbro has produced many game shows based on its properties.

Plus, we know that kids’ games like Floor is Lava can make entertaining reality TV, though they can also go very wrong.

So why not turn Mattel’s toys into reality TV shows instead/also? I have ideas!

Unsolicited, dumb ideas for Mattel toy reality shows

A Hot Wheels car
A Hot Wheels car (Photo by Ben Grant/Unsplash)

Mattel has reportedly been developing Whac-A-Mole and Uno into game shows, though I couldn’t find information about what happened to either of those.

But those are games, so there’s a logical connection progression from game to reality TV competition.

Turning a toy into a reality TV show takes more creativity—or, as I’ve demonstrated below, it can also be done with very little thought and some bad attempts at jokes. So here are my proposals:

Betsy Wetsy

A World of Wonder exclusive, this show would follow the lives of people in the drag community who enjoy watersports, and I don’t mean water skiing.

Hot Wheels

A Disney+ reality TV competition version of Disneyland’s Autopia and the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland Speedway. Contestants race life-size Hot Wheels that are on tracks, while stopping at tolls every few minutes to pay Disney even more money.

Magic 8 Ball

A dating series produced by Love is Blind and Married at First Sight’s producers filmed over 10 days, which is plenty of time to make major life decisions.

Every morning, couples jump into a ball pit full of Magic 8 Balls, pick one out, and ask it a question written by the producers designed to make them take the next step in their relationships, because what are they waiting for, they’re 20 and absolutely wasting their lives being single.

For example, on day one, they’d ask, “Should we combine our checking accounts today?” On day three, they can ask, “Should we adopt a baby to see if we can care for another human life together?”

If they get one of the five noncommittal answers from the Magic 8 Ball, they get another question added to their decisions for that day, such as, “Should we put our parents into a home so we can move into their house?” or “Should we open our relationship so the producers can get footage of us having sex with other people?”

Masters of the Universe

An adult remake of Nickelodeon’s Guts, hosted by Nikki and Brie Bella and refereed by Orko. The soundstage will be decorated like Eternia, and the Aggro-Crag replaced with a mockup of Castle Greyskull. All of the contestants will be costumed like He-Man and/or She-Ra.

Chatty Cathy

A guessing competition on Fox. Before the show, producers record text messages and memoir excerpts of former Trump administration officials’ memoirs onto special Chatty Cathy dolls.

The judges—Joe Rogan, Lena Dunham, Jon Gosselin, and Omarosa—pull strings on the dolls and try to guess who said what, and/or who is confessing to various forms of ethical transgressions, crimes, and/or treason, all while they and the fake audience laugh about just how darn cute these things sound.

Polly Pocket

CBS has stubbornly refused to expand or materially change Big Brother’s very small soundstage house, except for Scott Storey’s annual redesign of the interior. So how about Mattel pays for that instead of developing a brand-new show?

Big Brother: Polly Pockets would be built so that the house opens up to reveal a world of strategy, whispering, deceit, racism, and candy-colored rooms and accessories all made out of plastic to allow for easy clean-up.

Because Polly Pockets come in many different forms, there are multiple seasons and themes right there for the taking—most of which would be more inventive than what the actual producers come up with during their annual fling-feces-at-the-wall brainstorming session.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots

This already exists. It is called The Challenge.


A Netflix true-crime series where everyday people look at murder scene photos on a View-Master, and then accuse real people of committing those killings based on five minutes of searching Bing.

Have a better or more obvious idea, including for other toys such as Barney, American Girl, or Thomas & Friends? Share it in the comments below!

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

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Happy discussing!


Friday 29th of April 2022

OMG... You owe me a new screen after I read the Betsy Wetsy reality show!

These were truly brilliant.