Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bluey succeeds as a cartoon by keeping it real

 Our son has recently fallen in love with the cartoon Bluey. I don’t know how long that will last but the more we are exposed to it, the more we his parents are appreciating it.

Bluey is about an Australiaian family in a world of anthropomorphic dogs. Mum Chilli, dad Bandit, six-year-old daughter Bluey and four-year-old daughter Bingo. Bluey is the title character but it’s very much an ensemble work. Every character has a chance to shine and sometimes it’s even one of the friends.

Here’s the thing. One of the first descriptions I read of Bluey was that it was the Australian version of Peppa Pog. But what made it work for us was the vast number of things that are completely different than Peppa Pig. While, of course, it’s idealized, it’s a very grounded slice of life show. It doesn’t show big events, just tiny common life events. Other than talking dogs, it’s the most realistic show he’s latched onto.

I was already warming up to the show when my wife insisted that I watch the episode Bin Nights. In Bin Night, the girls help Bandit take out the garbage every week. They talk about their day, with a focus on Bingo talking about someone she’s having problems with at school. That’s it. Bandit supports and comforts her but doesn’t magically solve her problems. It’s very ordinary and very sweet and very relatable.

In many cartoons, parents only exist as an extension of the child. In Bluey, the parents are very much their own characters. To the point where we enjoy the parent-centered episodes much more than our son :D

Kids shows have been about teaching life lessons for decades. My childhood included several PSAs awkwardly welded onto cartoons. Bluey actually conveys life lessons in a genuine and gentle way somehow without being preachy. Our son is in danger of actually learning something.

We know other adults who watch Bluey to decompress and we can see why.

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