5 Quirky Parenting Classes From The Hit Animated Sequence ‘Bluey’
With my wife and I busy raising a two-year-old and a five-month-old, we’ve learned what all toddler parents know about children’s television: that almost all child-focused programs are annoying, repetitive, and unimaginative. Make-it-stop shows like “Barney”, “Peppa Pig”, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Cocomelon” come to mind.
Australian father and TV producer Joe Brumm was inspired by his two daughters to create a different type of show. In every seven-minute episode of “Bluey”, six-year-old Bluey and four-year-old bingo usually play an imaginative game that is (more or less) overseen by loving married parents, Bandit and Chilli.
Eliminated the typical children’s television tropes of memorizing numbers or high-handed moral lessons, Brumm said his goal was simply to “make a show that makes kids laugh”. At first, it’s not obvious how much thought or care there is in “Bluey” – or that it’s heavily autobiographical for Brumm, who gets involved with his kids, much like the show’s daddy-dog alter ego.
“The main lightning bolt I had was watching them play,” he said in an interview. “Those games that we play at five in the morning that you never play again are going in weird directions, and I thought it might be fun to animate them. While I was in the middle of it, I remembered it, wrote it down and we shot episodes about it. “
To produce Bluey, Brumm started a small animation studio in Brisbane, Australia – a mostly suburban area with virtually no entertainment industry – and brought together a team of animators, many of them young parents. Three years and 120 episodes later, including a distribution deal with Disney, it took the world by storm.
It is nonsensical to learn from a show that aims not to teach (remember, Fred Rogers was famously opposed to commerce, but his life’s work lives on in books.) But more is happening in the world of Bluey than just the eye, and not everything seems helpful. Many of the lessons are astute while my wife and I brush some aside.
1. Let children solve their small conflicts (S1, episode 10 “Hotel”)
With lots of laughter and idiosyncratic nursery rhymes that feel real, “Hotel” sums up what families will enjoy in most episodes. Only a few minutes later, when his daughters are arguing about the further course of their game, one storms off.
Instead of rushing to get them face to face and solve their problems, Papa Bandit returns to his duties. He leaves it up to the elder to see what caused the breakdown and get things right so they can finish their game.
2. Teaching according to example (S1, Ep. 47 “Neighbors”)
In a clever social comment, the family creates a neighborhood of four separate households with sofa cushions. The younger sibling repeatedly encroaches on the property line of the older one.
Parents get into the spirit of the game and have their own disagreement while dad amplifies his music without regard to others. While the adults find a way to solve their problem, the children watch and work through their battle.
Ignore: It is okay not to respect parents (S1, episode 45 “Children”)
Bandit’s willingness to play at kid level, from tea parties to a zoo animal, is lauded by many as #DadGoals. I agree – up to a point. In some episodes the reversal of parent-child roles results in a Nickelodeon-style disregard for authority.
His daughters decide to do the grocery shopping and treat their father like a toddler. Similar scenarios play out elsewhere, with the humiliation of fathers being an unintended consequence. Perhaps each family’s personality is a little different, but there is no blatant disrespect here.
3. Boring things are important (S1, Ep. 22 “The Pool”)
She celebrates the vital role of organized mothers making lists and could be my wife’s favorite. Dad takes the kids to the pool but fails to bring some essentials, resulting in sunburn and general excitement. Fortunately, mom is coming to save the day.
4. Failure and struggle are part of life (S1, Ep. 11 “Fahrrad”)
This episode in particular shows how atypical “Bluey” is in its approach. “The show should make kids laugh,” says Brumm. “But it slowly moved on to trying to see what I had learned in my life since I was a parent and what had changed from my previous life. I tried to get to the bottom of these things and then bring them to the screen. “
In a park, three young dog children struggle with various obstacles, such as one who does not climb onto the monkey bars. Big-Kind Bluey’s quick reaction is to help to end her pursuit. But dad says, “Just watch out” – a wise word to empower others.
Ignore: It is okay for children to be a terror (S2, Ep. 11 “Charades”)
Bluey’s family has a cousin named Muffin who has tantrums and really needs better home exercise. Yes, my kids filmed scenes in restaurants and I’m never someone to judge other parents’ situation when that happens.
The problem is how “Bluey” seems to apologize for this kid’s constant antics, as Muffin learns of cooperation only to return to chaos later. Perhaps the intent is to reflect real life because everyone has met undisciplined children; but mostly it makes parents skip those rare muffin-related episodes.
5. Always laughable (S1, Ep. 6 “The Weekend”)
What makes this show stand out is the children’s natural dialogue and parents’ commitment to starring in outrageous games. (Brumm and his team keep the details of who voices child characters a secret, only saying that they’re a mix of everyday kids and some with acting experience.)
“Bluey” arouses emotions – certainly laughter, but also tears. Brumm says he read dozens of emails and tweets, including “some of his pals who are tough guys,” telling about getting foggy eyes after an episode that completely captured life with young children .
“It’s a compliment for the show,” said the writer and creator. “But you are never far from crying when you have children! You cry because you love your children and because you are tired. There is something special (and) totally emotional territory when you have children of this age. “
The first two seasons of “Bluey” are available in the US from Disney Plus.
Josh Shepherd covers culture, faith, and public order for multiple media outlets, including The Stream. His articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion & Politics, Faithfully Magazine, Religion News Service, and Providence Magazine. A graduate of the University of Colorado, he previously worked for the Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family. Josh and his wife live in the Washington, DC area with their two children.