Children, while cute, have questionable taste in television. And although first-time parents might be willing to put up with anything for a few minutes of precious silence, by the time of your thousandth re-watch you might find yourself flipping off Blippi or going loco at Cocomelon. When that happens, we inevitably cast about for kids’ programming fit for an adult intelligence. Thankfully, in our time of need, there’s Bluey.
Created and written by Joe Brumm, this Australian series is centered not just on young sisters Bluey and Bingo, but also on their hilarious parents, Bandit and Chilli. Despite being full of magic and mystery, it’s more realistic than your usual pre-school entertainment: The kids’ toys are rarely picked up, the back seat of their car makes me feel a lot better about our own sticky situation, and Mum and Dad are still figuring things out. An attempt at gentle parenting might leave the pups cold and miserable, while an effort to teach a firm lesson is likely to end in tears and ice cream. And although Bandit and Chilli are a source of stability, they’re also prone to exhaustion, hangovers, and the occasional nervous breakdown.
Us, too. Bluey is a globe-conquering phenomenon because parents see ourselves in the Heeler pack, even as our own pups chuckle at the canine hijinks. It’s funny, profound, more than a little naughty, and best of all, for everyone. Here are 10 episodes of Bluey that explain why I’d die for those dogs.
10. “The Beach”
Mum Chilli likes walking alone sometimes, a preference that seems obvious to us even as her screaming children do not understand. But on a trip to the beach, after a brief period of separation, Bluey sets out to track down her longer-legged mother, leading her on an adventure down Australia’s coast. She’ll have to overcome her fear of birds, crabs, and even more pressingly, solitude. By the end, Bluey finds that she also likes walking alone. But is she going to give Mum and Dad more alone time? Even for a show with magic, that’s too far-fetched.
Like so many of Bluey‘s funniest episodes, “Faceytalk” features Bluey and Bingo’s excitable younger cousins, Muffin and Socks. Over video chat, Muffin and Socks struggle with sharing, ending with Muffin grabbing a phone and dashing around the house while being chased by her dad, Uncle Stripe. The kids learn about fairness, while Uncle Stripe and Aunt Trixie have to wrestle with their different ideas about the best way to discipline children.
The conversation that runs, “We don’t do time-out anymore,” into “We don’t?” and “I read a book!” might have been eavesdropped from many households I know, especially when the new tactic fails and both parents can only scream “Time out!” Both kids and parents are learning lessons, and their split conundrums are matched to a daring split-screen video chat animation. Best of all, Muffins’ mad dash for sole Faceytalk control is slapstick perfection.
Bluey is a celebration of children’s imagination, but not at the cost of adult enterprises. “Stumpfest” demonstrates this tension, as a group of dads work to pull up a dead stump where the girls have set up an imaginary nail salon. These negotiations set the developmental framework for the episode, while the mums, cackling and cracking cold ones, provide much of the humor. In the end, the dads all get manicures, the stump is removed, and the girls start slinging lemonade — though how they acquired it, nobody knows, since neither life nor anyone else gave them lemons.