Magic Mixies have proved a hit with Netflix and Nine Go. But what does it say about Australian kids’ TV?

The Moose team is big on words like diversity and empowerment, but there’s little doubt the primary aim of their animated series is to build connection with the product. And for the likes of Netflix, Nine and co, it’s cheap content, in a space in which few broadcasters are willing to invest.

According to Screen Australia, 2021-22 was a bumper year for the local sector, with $2.29 billion worth of drama production, but only a fraction went to children’s content: $67 million on 58 hours, down from a peak of $108 million and 167 hours three years earlier. Eight of the 11 shows were made for the ABC.

The Shopkins line of collectibles became a $4.3 billion smash for Moose.

The Shopkins line of collectibles became a $4.3 billion smash for Moose.

Regulations under which the commercial free-to-air broadcasters were required to commission and screen children’s content were weakened under the Morrison government, and it has had a major impact.

Figures released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority on Friday show that of $1.541 billion spent on Australian content last financial year, the commercial networks spent just $2.027 million on children’s drama, and another $883,445 on children’s non-drama.

The broadcasters argue, with some justification, that their channels are no longer the best place for children’s content because most parents would rather their children not be subjected to ads.


The streamers, meanwhile, face no obligations at all – a situation that seems likely to soon change.

Nonetheless, Netflix claims that in the years 2019-21, it invested more than $58 million in Australian children’s content.

Though we love to celebrate the hits like Bluey, Little Lunch and The Inbestigators, the reality of the broadcasters’ relationship to the children’s sector was summed up by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation recently thus: “No one really wants to be required to screen or commission children’s content and no one wants to pay what it’s worth.”

A Nine spokesperson points to the broadcaster’s focus on content that fits into the “family brief” such as co-watching shows like Lego Master as opposed to strictly kids’ TV noting its broader audience remit.

The federal government, which is developing regulations for the streamers, is particularly concerned with encouraging investment in “high-quality Australian scripted drama, documentary and children’s programs, which are genres that might otherwise not be made”.

Carl Budd with the crystal ball and an early version of the cauldron in the engineering workshop at Moose Toys’ global headquarters in Melbourne.

Carl Budd with the crystal ball and an early version of the cauldron in the engineering workshop at Moose Toys’ global headquarters in Melbourne. Credit: Paul Jeffers

Would a Magic Mixies fit the bill? It’s not an easy question to answer.

On the plus side, it is an Australian-conceived and produced series. The first two seasons were made by Brisbane-based studio Pixel Zoo, though season three has been made in Brazil.

Its values are universal enough, but the accents are not Australian, and neither is the fantastical world it depicts. The show’s human lead, Sienna, is voiced by an actress in Los Angeles. The lead writer is based in LA too.

It would likely be classified as “Australian-related” content rather than Australian. But because it is so closely aligned with a commercial product, and would struggle to pass the “educational” test, one industry source suggests it would likely not be countable towards any obligations anyway.

The ACTF argues that it is fundamentally important for Australian kids to see themselves onscreen. When they do, “they experience recognition and affirmation, with characters and stories that help them imagine all the possibilities for someone like them”.

Children’s screen content, the foundation claims, “is both a mirror and a window in a child’s life, with the capacity to influence in profound and positive ways – to bolster a child’s own sense of identity, as well as to encourage them to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience what it might be like to be them. In this way, Australian children’s screen content is truly nation building”.

Creating a global toy line and its associated spin-offs is undoubtedly nation-building in its own way too, and should be celebrated accordingly. But does Magic Mixies allow Australian children to “see their lives reflected on screen”? That might be pushing the smoke and mirrors just a little.

Find more of the author’s work here. Email him at, or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin.

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