I first heard about this show last year. A friend had asked if we had seen it and suggested that we (and our son) would enjoy it. I was 5 months pregnant at the time and our son was becoming bored with the usual suspects: Team Umizoomi, Paw Patrol, Blues Clues, Blaze, and Bubble Guppies. So why not give it a try?
The world of kid’s TV is crammed with numbers, letters, and constant drilling of basic academics. Bluey brings none of that to the table. I was impressed to see that each 7-minute episode is jammed packed with humor, imagination, and lessons in parenting. Yes, parenting.
Bluey is an Australian-based TV animated series that follows the adventures of 6-year-old pup, Bluey, and her family. What makes this show stand out is that there is no emphasis on literacy or numeracy. Instead, it heavily focuses on play and how it teaches life lessons, like problem solving, working together, and handling big emotions.
What I found most interesting was that not only did my son thoroughly enjoy the show, but my husband and I were enjoying it so much that we couldn’t wait for new episodes. But why? What was this? I had to figure it out.
The Art of Play and Parenting
Bluey’s storylines are rooted in everyday life. There is no bad guy in the show, but rather, it’s the situational conflicts that take mainstage.
Play, as we have posted before, is an important occupation in a child’s development. It helps kids make sense of the world around them. This can range from understanding their parents’ point of view (Stumpfest), why things are the way they are (Camping or Markets), to the heavier topics like death (Copycat) or hospital stays (Bumpy and the Wise Old Wolfhound).
The creator, Joe Brumm, wanted to make a show that emphasized play, especially since his eldest daughter had struggles in school.
“Play time was suddenly taken away from her, it was just yanked and seeing the difference in her was horrendous. There was no playing, there was no drawing, it was just straight into all this academic stuff. And the light in her eyes just died.” – Joe Brumm, creator of Bluey.
In the show, we also see how Bluey’s parents, Bandit and Chilli, connect and engage with their kids. How they parent is what grabbed our attention. Prior to watching, we were struggling with our son. It was the start of the pandemic and our patience was wearing thin. Over the course of the show, we watched how Bandit and Chilli dealt with their pups: playing with them even when they were tired, acknowledging their emotions, and apologizing if they hurt their feelings. They are active and present for Bluey and her sister Bingo. The more I watched the series, the more I saw that their child-rearing echoes the current research on parenting (hello Whole-Brain Child Approach!).
Modern Parents (in Dog Form)
Another reason why we gravitate to Bluey is because Bandit and Chilli reflect the modern-day parent. Unlike many shows in this genre, this dad is actually competent. This sounds like a joke, but cartoon dads are usually depicted as having good intentions, but are totally inept (I’m looking at you, Peppa Pig’s dad). Sure, they’re there for laughs, but a recent survey found that 93% of parents felt that the media depictions of dads fail to reflect what they contribute to real family life. About half of them believe that these portrayals lead children to think that fathers are “useless.” Bandit is fun and laid-back, finding opportunities to play with his daughters (as seen in Yoga Ball and Daddy Dropoff), even if it is for a small amount of time.
Although Bluey has many episodes featuring play time with their dad, their mom is still very much present. Chilli may not be the focus of their play, but she definitely leans into it by entertaining their games and getting into character. As with many of her peers, Chilli is the dependable one who does a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes unnoticed, until it’s not there (like in Pool). She is also the voice of reason for the kids, helping the girls process their feelings and comforting them when needed.
What makes her character different than other moms is that she is seen taking time out for herself, like going out to play field hockey with friends (Horsey Ride), going to a baby shower (Daddy Putdown), or having alone time, even if it is for a moment or two (The Beach). It may seem like nothing to boast about but self-care, as we have discussed in many of our posts, is important to being a better parent and it’s nice to see it reflected in the show.
Brumm has stated that Bluey was designed to be watched as a family. The episodes are kid-friendly, but still have a lot of humor that adults will appreciate (like how limited sleep looks like a night of one too many in Sleepover). It also has episodes directed towards parents (Takeaway or Sticky Gecko) about parenting, even in stressful situations. There are segments that remind us what it’s like to be kid and how to not forget that we were once one too. The series does a wonderful job subtly illustrating that parenting is hard work and that’s what makes it so relatable.
How Bluey Changed Our Lives
Since Bluey has entered our lives, our parenting has changed for the better. We’re more patient and playful with our kids, and we remember to practice kindness and compassion with them. The games we play are inspired by the show, like Keepy Uppy, Tickle Crabs, or Featherwand, which are pretty fun and easy to partake in. When our 3-year-old is having a tough time, we reference certain scenes on how the characters dealt with a situation and apply it to our own. The best part is that this show has now become a Friday evening tradition, watching new episodes together as a family.
You can watch season 1 of Bluey on Disney + and catch season 2 on the Disney Now App.
Fun tales ABC Kids series Bluey lapped up | PerthNow
Bluey creator shares secrets to making the smash animated kids’ TV series (thenewdaily.com.au)
Bluey: How a Cartoon Dog Became Your Ultimate Guide to Fatherhood — The Father Hood (the-father-hood.com)