FEAR & LOATHING IN SYLVANIA

A Sylvanian Drama Primer

Fohr
Fohr
February 1, 2024
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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In the midst of a bleak February 2021, with the insurrection of January 6th still dominating headlines and my spirits at rock bottom, I sought refuge in a mind-numbing TikTok binge. Just when I thought my brain couldn't fry any further, I stumbled upon a video that stopped me in my tracks. Its opening frame featured a bunny doll with the question: "Girls, can you help me hide a body plz?"

The bunny doll is just one of the many charming characters in the world of “Sylvanian Families,” a beloved animal toy collection born out of the 80s, and the video was posted to an account aptly called @SylvanianDrama. The video continued to spin a peculiar tale of Timothée Chalamet, played by a panda Sylvanian, meeting his untimely demise. We find ourselves at a sleepover with a group of girl Sylvanians who embark on a surprisingly dark mission—concealing the murder evidence and then casually suggesting they watch Call Me By Your Name once the job is done.

Confused? Enthralled? Same. Obviously, I had to take a deep dive into the universe of Sylvanian Drama, which I soon understood was a series-based TikTok page creating unhinged and top-tier humor skits riddled with plot twists and exclusively featuring Sylvanian Families figurines, props, and DIY doll couture.

It wasn’t long before I couldn’t stop talking about Sylvanian Drama. I yapped about these little sin-drenched critters over dinner, in meetings, in cabs, on Slack. Was this reshaping the entire arc of my personality? Calling my sanity into question? Affecting my credibility at work? Maybe, maybe not. After all, I’m known for my tendency to unearth the obscure and latch onto them so obsessively that they merge with my sense of self. [To this day, I will defend Addison Rae and her entire discography with every ounce of my being (she saved pop music, of course!). My hyper fixation on Coca-Cola runs so deep that I've tattooed a misshapen Coke bottle onto my forearm as an homage to my favorite carcinogen.] But the Sylvanian dolls were different.

In a display of true friendship, my nearest and dearest gal pals immortalized my most recent fixation as a birthday surprise. They scoured eBay to source a vintage Sylvanian Families mouse wearing a chef's hat. As you can imagine, I was thrilled—my very own Sylvanian Drama character—the possibilities now endless. Yet, I soon realized that owning the tangible version couldn’t replace the magic of the TikTok version.

The most engrossing thing about Sylvanian Drama’s content is that the format is wonderfully, hypnotizingly consistent. Each skit is paired with the perfect song to set the tone. Text overlays are the sole means of transmitting dialogue—you will never hear an actual voice. Imagine if Charlie Chaplain's films starred toy mice but were written by a woman and were way funnier. Each episode manages to weave together a wild array of plotlines, holding a steady comedic lens on heavy subjects like infidelity, teen pregnancy, murder, and depression. In this world, the characters have forged their own lexicon featuring colloquial gems like “Thanks a mil,” “Ok perf,” “Deffo,” and “Locaysh.” 

As a viewer, I was instantly obsessed—but as a 9-5 girlboss strategist in influencer marketing, I had no choice but to embark on a mission to pick the brain of the brilliant artiste behind Sylvanian Drama. Who are they? What's their content strategy? Who’s their muse? Is this a full-time gig? How do they choose brand partnerships? What's the future of Sylvanian Drama, and most importantly, are they doing okay???

The following is a Fohr-exclusive interview with
Thea Von Engelbrechten, the 22-year-old mastermind
behind Sylvanian Drama. Thea lives in Co. Kildare, Ireland.

SOPHIE WOOD: How did you get into this medium of content / creative expression? Are you an aspiring writer or comedian?

THEA VON ENGLEBRECHTEN: I was studying multimedia and dropped out to pursue this full-time once I gained a big following. My dream is to be a film director, and it has been since I was a kid. Funnily enough, I didn’t start the account in order to do that. It was just a joke, but I’m hoping it will help me branch out into writing now. 

WOOD: What’s your creative process? Where do you draw inspiration for your content?

VON ENGLEBRECHTEN: My biggest inspiration is cringey TV shows and early 2000s comedy. I love anything from that time in terms of the style of humor. I’m also really inspired by my cats because they are extremely sassy and self-obsessed and can be so cute, but they also have no morals when it comes to killing other animals. I try to embody that with the Sylvanians. 

WOOD: Why do you think Sylvanian Drama is so popular and resonates with so many people?

VON ENGLEBRECHTEN: I don’t know exactly, but maybe it's because it’s coming from the voice of a 22-year-old who struggles with the same things as [they do]. I have a lot of storylines about insecure people, diet culture, toxic men, and sustainability, which I think other girls my age are also thinking about a lot. Maybe because my humor is childlike, people have a weird reaction to it and feel nostalgic when they see the account and the storylines. A lot of people say that it reminds them of how they played with toys, mixed with adult humor. 

WOOD: At Fohr, we talk about how a creator’s followers are often similar to each other—where in theory, if they were at a party together, they would get along and have similar interests even though they didn’t know each other prior. Do you feel like you understand who your audience is? 

VON ENGLEBRECHTEN: I think you're so right about the idea of going into a room and being able to tell who the audience is. I recently did a Q&A at a university with people gathered in one room who follow my account. They were mostly women and some men, but everyone there was really camp—like me. Everyone seemed to be into fashion. When I go out, I can often tell just by looking at someone if they know about my account.

In a world teeming with fleeting infatuations, Sylvanian Drama is more than a fixation for me: it's a constant companion, a respite from life's chaos. The surreal yet oddly relatable tales of Sylvanian Drama's characters and their boundless charm have nestled deep within my heart—making it a cherished part of my ever-evolving tapestry of obsessions.

Sophie Wood is a Senior Creative Strategist at Fohr, raised on the West Coast but now firmly an East Coast girly. Outside of work, she’s a fashion and lifestyle creator on Instagram and TikTok (@goodwoodx). Reach her at sophie@fohr.co.

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