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At its core, the ABC Kids show Bluey is all about finding joy in everyday life.
The smash-hit animated series follows Bluey, a loveable, inexhaustible six-year-old Blue Heeler dog, who lives with her mum, Chilli, her dad, Bandit and her five-year-old little sister, Bingo.
Voicing Chilli is Australian actress, Melanie Zanetti who says her character is an awesome mother because “she’s warm, fun, kind, fair and practical with a wry sense of humour”.
And aren’t those qualities ones every single one of us wants to bring to motherhood?
Ahead of the season three release of Bluey, Bounty Parents spoke to Melanie, who had just returned to the US from Latvia, where she had wrapped filming the feature Raven’s Hollow.
What do you love most about the character of Chilli?
Chilli is a beautiful combination of fun and funny with this great wit and she’s really creative. At the same time, she has a really grounding presence. She admits when she makes mistakes. These characters aren’t cookie cutter perfect and don’t always get everything right, but really approach things with a beautiful heart.
Most parents, most mums, I think, can relate to going in and trying your best. She’s a really great listener as well and it’s something I really love about her. She’s really good at tuning in to what’s happening and apologising when she gets it wrong.
With parenting you can often feel the need to be constantly entertaining your children but Bluey makes it ok to just be chilling at home…
Absolutely. It’s all about finding the joy in the simplicity of family life. There’s a saying, ‘You can view the world as if everything’s a miracle or nothing’s a miracle’ and I think Chilli really embodies the former.
Australian actress Melanie Zanetti voices the character of Bluey and Bingo’s mum, Chilli.
Chilli and Bandit are equals when it comes to parenthood and running a household. Isn’t this great to see on TV?
It’s one of my favourite aspects of this show, the fact that there is an equality in the split of domestic and emotional labour. You see both of them doing domestic duties. You see both of them having moments of tuning in and being there emotionally for Bingo and Bluey and also learning together.
I’ve personally received a huge amount of letters from people going, ‘This makes me want to be a better parent, and a better partner’. This cartoon has a real social impact. I’ve had dads saying ‘This has taught me how to play with my children’ and parents saying ‘The way they operate together is aspirational’. These guys are parent goals. Even (Bluey creator) Joe Brumm’s said ‘I’m not as good a dad as Bandit is’, so I think it’s aspirational and great to show such beautiful parenting and partnering in a show.
The show make us want to be better parents and partners but it’s done in a subtle way, do you agree?
It’s a testament to the brilliance of Joe’s writing and it never feels didactic. You’re always learning through the experiences that they’re having and through humour and creativity and play, and also just teaching us how much of the world the kids learn about through the experience of play.
Melanie says Chilli (pictured with Bluey and Bingo) admits when she makes mistakes.
The show is about everyday life, is this what makes it special?
It’s that everyday nothing that’s also completely magic. Kids are so uninhibited and so free and living in the moment. I feel so much of my life as a human actor is just trying to get back to a place where I’m more present and more free and kids are so wonderful at showing us that.
What do you think are some of the greatest parenting lessons from Bluey episodes?
An overarching one for me is communicating kindly with each other and finding creative solutions to problems. There’s so many examples of this in the show and we see how much joy can be found in the simplicity of everyday life and play, if we pay attention. I feel these are the core values of this show.
There are some really touching Bluey epsiodes, is there an episode you hold closest to your heart?
I really love Sleepytime (season 2), it’s a masterpiece. When I watched it, I wept. I was so emotionally moved, particularly at the end where Bingo is feeling the all-encompassing unconditional love from her mum. I’m tearing up thinking about it. It’s so beautiful, it’s a wonderful episode.
Flat Pack (season 2) is another one that got me, it was so brilliant. Another favourite is Hammerbarn (season 2), it’s hilarious. When I first read through the script for that episode, I was in stitches. It was such a fun one to make. These are three of my favourites.
Melanie says she wept when she read the script for the Bluey episode, Sleepytime.
When coming up with episode ideas do you all throw ideas around? Is it a collaborative process?
Honestly, not really. Joe is so tapped in to this particular age and world that I’m like, ‘You’ve totally got this’. I did hear that someone suggested we do a musical episode, which I’d be so down for, that’d be really fun.
Is it true the cast all record your voiceovers separately and you’ve never met?
Dave (McCormack who voices Bandit) and I have chatted on the phone a number of times, and he’s awesome. He’s such a great person but we’ve never met in real life. There’s so much chemistry but we record separately.
Bluey’s a global hit, are you ever recognised in public from your voice?
Never. I have a very malleable voice. Dave, for example, just sounds like Bandit, it’s his voice, there’s no altering or adjusting his voice. Whereas with my voice, I work in a lot of different accents. I have a neutral tone, Australian accent so for Chilli, I just lean into it more while thinking, ‘I’m a dog mum’. It’s different to where my natural voice is placed.
Season 3 of Bluey starts on ABC Kids on Monday 22 November, 2021.
The voice actors for Bluey and Bingo are not credited. What can you share about these young stars?
All I know is that all the young actors in the show are friends and family and people connected to the production team. I’m actually so happy about it now because they had no idea how big the show was going to be but right from the start they were like, none of the children will ever be credited. It was such a smart choice and it really keeps them so protected. Historically, this is an industry where children haven’t been protected and so I’m really, really happy with that decision. It keeps everyone safe and not harassed.
Finally, what can we expect from Season 3 of Bluey?
Viewers can expect more of the same creative play episodes where the magic of everyday life is explored. As the show continues and evolves, we learn more about our characters and who they are and you can expect more of what you love already about Bluey.