Robot Chicken has been on the air for fifteen years, and for much of that time, Battlestar Galactica and The Flash actor Katee Sackhoff has been playing the role of Bitch Pudding, a cruel and foul-mouthed parody of characters from the world of Strawberry Shortcake, a popular toy and cartoon line from the '80s. Abrasive, inappropriate, and one of Robot Chicken's most regular "villain" characters, Bitch Pudding has now become one of Sackhoff's most recognizable roles as well as one of the show's most popular original characters. With tonight's 200th episode coming up, Sackhoff looks back -- and isn't entirely sure how it happened.
One of the things Sackhoff told ComicBook.com during an interview about tonight's episode, is that she can't seem to guess which of her characters will click with the audience and which won't. But for more than a decade, she has been voicing a character whose main goal in life is to make the ever-joyful Strawberry Shortcake world just a little bit grimier.
"There are so many characters that I've played on Robot Chicken that are one-off," Sackhoff told ComicBook.com. "Even ones that you think are going to take hold and don't. So for better or worse, Bitch Pudding is the one that just seemingly won't die. She was one of the first characters I ever voiced. I believe. This is the way I've been telling the story for so long, but it's been so many years now I honestly don't know if this is the truth, but I believe that she was in my first session that I ever did when I went into Robot Chicken to play Starbuck. It was sort of like I was there, and anyone who's voiced characters on Robot knows you don't just go in and do one, you do at minimum three, so they can use the whole time in the booth. So Seth sort of said to me, 'Which one of these do you want to take a stab at?,' and Bitch Pudding was just one of them."
The concept of the character is simple enough on paper, and easily understood by fans who watch Robot Chicken or similar shows like South Park and Family Guy -- but Sackhoff knows that the audience is kind of a rarefied breed, since she has struggled to describe what's appealing about the character to people who aren't already fans.
"It's really, really hard to even explain who she is to people without offending them in the process because she is so offensive and just over the top and crazy," Sackhoff explained. "I think that's why people not only love Robot Chicken, but love her, is that she is taking things that people don't normally say and do, and sort of making them okay to talk about in a weird, awful way."
Of course, when you have a character who is morally repugnant, there's always the argument that most people who think that character is speaking for them are going to be people who aren't fun to be around. Sackhoff doesn't buy that, though; she says that she knows how easy it is to alienate an audience, but she thinks Robot Chicken devotees understand what she and the writers are doing with the character.
"At its core, art is completely subjective. And no matter who sees it, two completely different people could have completely different ideas about whether or not it was enjoyable or good," Sackhoff said. "So you never know what's going to turn somebody when they're watching a show. It could literally be a moment where they decide, 'Yeah, I'm done. I canceled this.' And so you never know what it's going to be these days. At the same time, I think because she came straight out of the gate being exactly who she is now, she's never changed, she's always been unapologetically over the top and controversial, and she's never going to stop being that. So I think that whoever are the people that are fans of Bitch Pudding, are prepared for her to continue to be that. And I don't know if she could ever offend anyone. I really don't. I think that's part of what I love about her, because I think that sometimes people need to remember that we are artists and we are playing characters, and there has to be room in the platform and in the space for all the types of characters and people to be represented, including unlikable ones."
To Sackhoff, it's the genre tropes and the disconnect from objective reality that helps Robot Chicken remain somewhat insulated from the critiques that might seriously compromise a live-action series about friends who live in a shared apartment or a family sitcom. When people can see the story at a bit of a remove, she told us, they respond differently.0comments
"It's the same thing that happened to us during Battlestar Galactica," Sackhof said. "Animation and science fiction and things like that -- action movies, anything that is considered and deemed by the population to be unreal and not based on reality -- is allowed to be over the top, is allowed to be controversial, because you can dismiss it by, 'It's not real.' The moment that you are trying to describe, or people think that you're accurately describing, a culture or a representation of something and it is unlikable, that is when you cross that line where you're no longer allowed to do that. But in fiction or in science fiction and in animation, you're allowed to go there, whereas a lot of other shows aren't."
After fifteen years of "going there," Robot Chicken will reach its two hundredth episode tonight on Adult Swim.
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