Bluey, a staple of the Nielsen streaming top 10, is the number-one streaming series among subscribers of Disney+, and it’s not even produced by the company.
The animated show—about a family of heeler dogs that centers on the magic of learning life lessons through play—is an Australian import that Disney+ and the BBC distribute. Created by Joe Brumm with Aussie animation house Ludo Studio, it’s become a huge phenomenon globally because… it’s seriously a damn good show. When I recommend it, I liken it to a blend of that Paddington feel-good fix with Taika Waititi comedic sensibilities kids don’t need to get yet, but still is made for them too.
At this point, I think Bluey has surpassed my love for Paddington. A bold claim, I’m sure! Let me take you back for a moment to lockdown (I’m so sorry), when watching streaming television was something we were all getting more used to. There were so many shows I wasn’t ready to dig into (but eventually did!) like Watchmen and Invincible. I remember at one point getting really into Kim’s Convenience—starring The Mandalorian’s Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ Simu Liu—as a salve for the heaviness of the times. My search for soothing streaming led me to look at film Twitter for more recommendations, and that’s where I spotted director Duncan Jones’ endorsement of Bluey, which came around the time that a family of vloggers I watch were also getting into the show with their kid.
Watching and soon binging Bluey is honestly the best thing film Twitter has made me do. I was already a big animation head, and I believe it is a medium for all, even in the case of a show ostensibly targeted at littles. Bluey presents sisters Bluey and Bingo experiencing moments in childhood that have that Anton Ego Ratatouille effect on you when you watch them. There’s a relatability to how their mom Chilli Heeler (Melanie Zanetti) and dad Bandit Heeler (Dave McCormack, of rock band Custard) get involved that evoke nostalgia for being a kid and feeling safe. For some the show, provides a window into how parenthood can be; Bandit and Chilli aren’t perfect, they’re learning just as much as their kids about breaking patterns or coping with challenges. Their relationships with Bluey and Bingo are filled with adventure and wonder—and they came into the lives of fans when it was needed the most, during the pandemic when many of us were separated from our own loved ones.
Take for instance, the “Sleepytime” episode—that was the game-changer for me, when the show went from being a delightful soothing bedtime watch to sparking a cathartic cry session.
In it, shy younger sister Bingo, who is low-key as much as the main character as Bluey, escapes into a fantastical dreamland as she learns to sleep in her bed alone. It’s filled with space imagery that captures the surrealism of dreams while depicting how you age into your own agency away from your parents. The hilarious beats in the B plot show the family dealing with the sleeping patterns of growing kids, but the ending packs a punch. It’s one of the best short films I’ve ever seen. I tend to recommend it along with “Grannies,” which is a silly introduction to the family with a glimpse of my favorite ongoing gag revolving around the grannies (if you know you know).
Like many childless adults in the Bluey fandom, I’ve gotten in deep with favorite characters, music releases, memes, and TikTok theories, because even the friends and families outside of the Heelers are just as delightful as the core characters. Muffin, Bluey and Bingo’s cousin, is an assertive little powerhouse all on her own and probably the true Alpha of the family. Muffin gets things done her way—even if it comes with big lessons for her about maybe sharing space with others. Still, she’s iconic.
There are over 100 episodes of Bluey and not all of them are on Disney+, as the release schedule is staggered from Australia to the U.S. Having to wait months for more batches just as stressful as having to wait months after Doctor Who has premiered for us to catch up. (Disney now has deals with both so hopefully this changes soon.) In the meantime, it’s hard to look away when you’re on BlueyTok (it’s a thing) and scroll past episodes that haven’t dropped here yet or have been removed or censored—since apparently some of the topics the show deals with are considered unsavory by ABC Disney, like “Perfect,” where Bandit discusses getting neutered (it’s changed to Bandit getting dental work), or “Daddy Putdown,” where pregnancy is discussed.
Thankfully, other edgier moments make it through in subtle ways. I was particularly moved by an episode called “The Show,” where Bluey and Bingo re-enact the story of their parents getting married and starting a family. There’s a fan theory floating around on BlueyTok that in the moment where Bingo, representing a pregnant belly with a balloon that pops—which cuts away to Bandit putting his hand on Chilli and then Bluey is born—means that Bluey is a “Rainbow Baby” (a child born after a unviable pregnancy). It’s a small but powerful moment, and this bravery to not hold back on the realities of family planning and grown-up struggles makes the show that much more poignant and timeless. I hope Bluey heals your inner child in ways you didn’t know it needed to be healed, like it has mine. Hop on the Bluey fandom train if you’re intrigued, love dogs, and don’t have or don’t plan to have kids, but need easily binge-able pure, feel-good content.
Seasons 1-2 and half of season 3 (release part two, Disney!) of Bluey are currently streaming on Disney+. You can also buy the DVD set of seasons 1-2 here.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.