On the surface, Bluey is like any number of kids TV shows you can watch in 2019.
The adventures of inexhaustible six-year-old puppy Bluey in everyday scenarios like going to the pool, playing hide and seek and having a BBQ, gently rub under the surface of modern life for parents and children.
But what makes Bluey different is its authenticity, its joyful celebration of play and its ability to capture the spirit of how modern parenting really is – not some fictional perfect idea of how it could be.
Set in Brisbane, the warmth of the Aussie sunshine is matched by the heart and charm of the show.
It gently nudges and wraps an arm around parents on how they can try a little harder, without patronising or placing any expectations.
It encourages children to live their pre-school and early-years life to the fullest, but sprinkles in vital messages around sharing, patience, the importance of the boring things and the value of money.
And it all gets wrapped up in a bundle of laughter, the greatest bad dad jokes (“I’m bored”, “Hello bored, nice to meet you”) and joyous side-eye moments between the parents.
The show brings together the infectious optimism of childhood that makes Peppa Pig such a smash hit with the added emotional poignancy and comedic subtlety of adult animation such as The Simpsons and Family Guy.
And don't just take our word for it. Bluey first launched on ABC Kids in Australia and it quickly became the most viewed series in the network's history with over 100 million plays. It was also the most popular children's TV show on terrestrial TV in Australia in 2018/19.
Here are three reasons every parent (and their kids) will love Bluey…
1. Play, don't teach
Bluey’s main ethos is that kids will always learn more through play than through lecturing or haranguing them.
Parents with young kids will recognise all the usual games here of hospitals, make-believe pets and toys with magical powers. And Bluey celebrates and taps into the importance and significance of this creative play.
Not only do Bluey and Bingo learn about values such as patience and sharing through their inventive games with their dad, they also learn lessons around consequences, such as what happens when you forget to take a ‘boring’ bag on a swimming trip. And most importantly, they take away emotional lessons from the investment and efforts that mum and dad throw into their play-time.
2. Bandit and Chilli are the heroes all parents need
Every parent at some point questions what they’ve done with their day. It can come after hours of playing patient for their kids in a surreal game of hospitals or after organising to take their children to a play park only for them to decide that they’d much rather be somewhere else.
Bluey is a reminder for all parents that every game we play with our children is time well spent.
For seven-minute animated episodes about a family of dogs, the modern dynamic of the stay-at-home dad Bandit and the working mum Chilli are surprisingly inspirational and moving.
The knowing looks between the parents as the kids launch into a new game and the subtle winks when passing adults watch Bandit diving into the world of make-believe are little signposts to parents that the absurd and crazy world of parenting is a universal experience.
3. There's nothing wrong with failure
Bandit is fun, family-focused and creative. But he’s not practical. Chilli works hard and is absent for long periods, but she remembers everything, celebrates the little moments and is fully engaged with the inventive world of her family.
One of the more moving episodes is Pool, in which Bandit whisks the kids away on a swimming trip but forgets to take the ‘boring’ bag with all the practical items like sun screen, food and flip-flops.
The entire day turns into a disaster until mum arrives with the bag, reminding the kids who snubbed her earlier that sometimes ‘boring’ things are worthwhile.
Other kids shows might have mocked Bandit for not being able to organise the day by himself, but Bluey empathises the significance of parents working as a couple. It also ends the episode with a touching moment, which feels unique to Bluey, as the parents share a kiss in the pool. Viewed from Bluey’s perspective under the water, it will leave a lump in your throat and something in your eye.
Your kids will love this if they liked…
Peppa Pig, Sesame Street, Tumble Leaf, Doc McStuffins, Vampirina.
How to watch Bluey on BT TV
Tune into Bluey on Disney Junior on weekdays at 7.30am and 4.30pm.
Disney Junior is available on BT TV with the BT TV Kids pack.