When Channel Ten pulled the pin on Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation in 2012, the TV landscape became bleaker in the absence of Shaun Micallef and co. exploring intergenerational difference from the Baby Boomers through to Generation X.
Happily, the show’s jumped ship with a revival on the Nine Network, with a few tweaks. For a start, the Boomers have been ditched, with the elder generation being represented by Gen Xer, writer, comedian and actress Robyn Butler, funny dude Andy Lee (the Andy half of Hamish & Andy) captaining Gen Y, and actor Laurence Boxhall heading up the first-time inclusion of Gen Z.
While a lot’s been made of the generational shake-up, Butler isn’t convinced it changes the flavour of the show. “My team fills the same role as Amanda’s team [Amanda Keller previously captained the Boomers],” she says. “We still have the slightly world-weary, ‘you know nothing’ attitude towards the others. It’s the same DNA of human beings travelling through time, no matter what you call it. So I don’t think it actually affects anything, except my pride.”
While we’ve become accustomed to Butler driving things from behind the camera with the stream of award-winning tele emanating from Gristmill, the TV-production company she spearheads with husband Wayne Hope, Butler is set to remind us that her on-screen chops are just as sharp.
That said, it’s required something of a gear change.
“I was a little bit tentative, because I haven’t been Robyn as Robyn, apart from doing publicity things, in front of the cameras for a long time,” she admits. “I’ve acted, but that took a back seat, because I wanted to explore other parts of myself.
“Increasingly, writing, producing and directing was where I was getting a lot of satisfaction, but the very first day we started shooting, I was like, ‘oh, that’s right’. It just was like riding a bike.”
The move is also in line with a decision Butler made when she hit her 40s to make more joyful material.
“I spent a lot of my younger career making darker, more cynical things, which I think you tend to do when you’re younger, because you’re not really concerned about mortality,” she says. “As you get older you go, ‘oh, I’m going to be dead soon’. Like, come on, lighten up everybody.
“Upper Middle Bogan is a very happy show. Little Lunch, our kids’ show, is a very happy show. It’s not to say that either of them are without satire, but they certainly come from a place of hope. At this point in time we live in a funny old world: antagonist, human, disparate, and people are at odds.
“In contrast, Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation feels like fun, and I’m going with fun options.”
All of that said, it is unusual for Butler to be working on a project sans hubby Hope. Is she going to miss him?
“No. I’m contractually obliged to work with him on a 24/7 basis anyway. There is no escape. I’ve tried. I’ve looked at all the loopholes and, apparently, I can’t get out of it.”
- Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation launches Monday, May 21 at 7.30pm on Nine.