Opinion: Children’s show “Bluey” is enjoyable for everyone

Abby Hagan, Columnist

“Bluey” is an Australian animated children’s program that premiered October 1, 2018. The show features a 6-year-old Australian heeler dog named Bluey, and the rest of the Heeler family: her dad Bandit, her mom Chili, and her 4-year-old sister Bingo. 

They are anthropomorphic dogs who act as a typical, essentially human, family of four. Each of the seven minute episodes follows the silly, frustrating and the bittersweet moments of their everyday lives. Bluey is targeted at preschool-age children, but has gained an avid audience of teens, young adults and parents. 

I suspect that a primary factor in attracting this older fanbase is the social-emotional aspect of the show. Bluey, unlike many other kid’s shows, doesn’t shy away from tackling tough topics like arguments between family and friends, struggles of parenthood and even death. The show realistically represents the universal struggles of being a person, and always models a healthy way to resolve the problem.

 For example, in season 2 episode 19 “The Show,” Bingo feels terrible after dropping Chili’s mother’s day breakfast on the floor. Chili guides her through the process of calming herself down with a checklist that goes “Have a little cry, pick myself up, dust myself off and keep going.” 

An important aspect of this is that Chili never shames Bingo for crying, but actually embraces it as part of the process. The feeling of guilt is something that anyone can relate to, regardless of age. It is validating and comforting to hear Chili’s soothing words, no matter who you are. 

Another feature of Bluey that makes it unlike other children’s programming is that it uses artful symbolism in its storytelling. Season 2 episode 26, “Sleepytime,” is an excellent example of this. The episode follows Bingo, who wants to  spend the whole night in her own bed. The viewers see what Bingo sees as she dreams, creating an elaborate metaphor for Bingo gaining a little more maturity. 

Bluey and Bingo’s shared bedroom is decorated with stars and planets, and we notice a book on space as she goes to sleep. This space imagery then permeates into her dream. She first hatches out of the earth as if it were an egg, and travels through space. 

We cut to reality a few times, and see Chili looking worried as Bingo cries in her sleep, dreaming that she has let go of her plush rabbit, Floppy, to join his own kind on their planet. Then, Bingo notices a Sun, and rushes towards it at top speed. 

The sun, voiced by Chili, speaks comforting words to Bingo that give her the courage to put herself back into her earth-egg. The metaphor of Chili being Bingo’s Sun- her source of warmth and life- would likely go over the heads of preschool age children. 

This episode would probably be nothing more than a space adventure to them. I think this episode was made with parents in mind, hoping to show how important and special their role is in guiding their children through their coming of age. 

Lastly, Bluey exhibits a very high level of character development. From the very beginning, there was a clear decision in character design to represent which parent each child is most similar to. 

Bingo and Chili are both red heelers, and they are consistently shown to me more emotional and perfectionist than Bluey and Bandit, who tend to be silly, impulsive, and a little more argumentative. 

Throughout the seasons, the characters are shown to mature and change overtime, unlike many cartoons that exist in a stagnant timeline without much character growth. 

These fleshed out characters make up the heart and soul of Bluey, and take the show beyond a piece of mindless children’s media. There is something to be said for the fact that the two exemplary episodes I mentioned previously feature Bingo, a supporting character. There is enough depth to each Heeler, and even some of Bluey and Bingo’s friends, to center an episode around just about anyone. 

All three seasons of Bluey are available to stream on Disney+ and I highly recommend it to children and adults alike.