“I know it looks dumb, but it’s a really good show and I think you’ll like it!” This is what my girlfriend said to me about an animated Australian TV series called “Bluey,” which is available on Disney Plus for American viewers. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to differ from any other kids show — it features a family of anthropomorphic dogs, Blue and Red Heelers specifically, the main character being Bluey, her parents Bandit and Chilli, and her younger sister Bingo. The episodes seemed pretty straight forward — the kids have some adventure and the parents are able to teach some lessons that the kids learn from it, both in the show and those watching it.
But after watching a few episodes, something felt different. It didn’t seem like other kids TV programs. The characters seemed like real people. The kids’ script didn’t feel like, well, a script. They just seemed like normal kids playing games and having fun. And the parents weren’t these picture perfect guardians who always had everything under control. They seemed just as human as the kids, doing a great job but also occasionally messing up. In other words, I found the show highly relatable, having once of course been a kid and having to babysit kids.
When I did further research, I discovered that what I was experiencing wasn’t by accident, but rather by design. An article by NPR explains that while the show is made for a young audience, it also is written for adults. A common theme that viewers have picked up on is how dedicated the parents are — they always go along with their kids’s activities, even when they are tired or busy. One parent said it’s one of the few shows she’ll let her children watch simply because it portrays good parents. She even takes notes during episodes for parenting tips.
The “Bluey” fandom isn’t limited to online articles. Type in the name of the show to YouTube or TikTok, and you will find episode clip montages, parents’ reactions to the show, and even video essays talking about the show’s significance. But one recurring point of praise the show has earned is its creative ability to discuss hard topics that don’t jar its younger viewers but also give valuable lessons to parents. One episode has Bandit and Bluey taking an injured bird to the vet. Though the bird doesn’t make it, it provides a way for parents to explain death in a way that children can understand. Another episode deals with a family friend who cannot have children — Chilli is able to explain what is going on by using a creative analogy that presents the situation so it’s not inappropriate for kids.
I think what attracts people to the show is that it brings a new sense of joy in being in a family. Another article about the show revealed some of Bluey’s signature traits. For one, the episodes are roughly eight minutes in length. They keep pace with a child’s attention span and provide something light for parents to watch. The episodes are also really funny. They have humor suitable for kids with many jokes sprinkled about that go over their heads and give adults a good laugh.
But most importantly, the fans are drawn to the examples set by the characters. Bandit and Chilli’s bond is adored by the fans. They take on parenting as a team, while making time for each other in a way that is both romantic and relatable. They also are excellent parents. They take time out of their busy day to play with Bluey and Bingo, going along with all of their shenanigans even when they don’t feel like it. They correct their children when they are wrong, yet they are also willing to admit when they make mistakes. They strike a healthy balance that all parents can aspire to.
The show provides enjoyable content while not being afraid to show parenting realities. Parents fight, kids get their feelings hurt, and the struggles that come with family life are depicted in a way that kids may not see, but adults definitely can. Yet it never takes away from what the show is about: displaying how a family is supposed to love each other while continuing to grow as people, for both the children and the adults.
I think people at UD would relate to “Bluey.” Many at the university want to get married and have kids after college, and some even get married while in school. At the very least, most UDers value the institution of marriage and the family. “Bluey” helps to show how complicated and difficult family relationships are, while still joyfully portraying how fulfilling and wonderful they can be.
People who want a light hearted and profound portrayal of marriage and family life would do best to catch the latest episode of “Bluey.”