An Interview With Melanie Zanetti

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If there’s one thing that everyone in our house can agree on, it’s that Bluey is the best kids’ show on television right now. Need something to watch for ten minutes? Bluey. Need to regroup before bed? Bluey. Need something to have playing in the car for two hours? Bluey.

My kids and their grandparents watched the first few episodes when it first appeared on Disney+, and by the time we got home from work that day, they were all hooked. When we walked in the door, we were greeted by my dad: “There’s a new show about cartoon dogs, and you have to watch it, because the parents are you and Ben, and well, you just have to watch it because it’s you guys.”

One of the things that really sets Bluey apart from other cartoon animal families is the fairness to both parents and the real-life situations that are portrayed. From the simple eye-roll when a kid asks to play a particular game to a whole episode around trying to leave the house on time, it’s instantly relatable.

Melanie Zanetti is the voice of TV’s most famous “Mum,” Chilli Heeler, and she was recently in New York for a week of whirlwind activity. She was able to meet the voice of her television dog husband, Dave McCormack, for the first time and be part of the debut of Bluey’s Big Play at the Kennedy Center. She was able to witness the Thanksgiving parade and its new Bluey balloon and to be part of many interviews; my interview with her for GeekMom was rescheduled so that she and Dave could be interviewed by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show! You’re welcome, Jimmy.

Melanie has been bringing Chilli Heeler to life since the very beginning of the series, and I have loved Chilli for that exact amount of time. After spending twenty minutes with Melanie, I want to be friends with real-life Melanie “for real life.” She is just as warm and caring, just as engaged and imaginative, as her cartoon dog counterpart.

Her career has been so varied, and yet she cites this amazing cartoon as the highlight of the past few years. We reminisced on shared childhood television shows and talked about our favorite moments in Bluey. Melanie’s favorite episode is the critically acclaimed “Sleepytime,” in which after Chilli reads bedtime stories to Bingo and kisses her goodnight, then Bingo has a dream about a space adventure with Floppy while the rest of the family sleepily navigates Bingo’s bed-hopping. The whole thing is beautifully underscored by “The Planets, Op. 32. Mov. IV: Jupiter” by Gustav Holst.

I expressed to Melanie how “seen” I and many other moms felt by “Baby Race,” an episode in which new mum Chilli feels like she is in a competition with the other babies for growth and development. The show touches on so many things that we have generally deemed taboo. An episode in which the girls put on a play refers to a potential miscarriage. At preschool, the girls play “early baby” and pretend that one of the babies arrives too early and has to stay in the hospital. “Baby Race” tackles the very heart of postpartum depression and how reality and your sense of self-knowledge are shaken by the birth of a child. The show tackles the aging of grandparents, sibling rivalry, military families, neighbors, and so many other things.

While Melanie clearly isn’t a cartoon dog, she said that much of what happens in Bluey resembles her own Australian upbringing and that her nieces love the show. Coming from a big family, she identified the calmness of Chilli in so many crazy situations with the calmness of her own mum. The weekend before Thanksgiving, in New York, was the first time she got to meet Dave McCormack in person, though they have spoken on the phone in the past. She calls him her “cartoon dog husband,” which amazes her because 16-year-old Melanie was a Custard fan, the Australian band of which Dave is the frontman.

Honestly, we talked about so many wonderful things and had such a great conversation that it’s hard to put into a simple post here on GeekMom, and I hope you take the time to listen to this GeekMom talk with her favorite TV mom. 

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