‘Bluey’ Is Getting Experimental, and Kids Are Keeping Up
Bluey, the global phenomenon about a little blue dog living her best life, has always been creative and complex. Some of the best episodes include “Sleepytime,” in which Bluey’s sister Bingo goes on an intergalactic space odyssey in her sleep, and “Flat Pack,” in which Bluey seems to ascend to godhood in her imagination. And who can forget “Rain,” the wordless episode that centers around Bluey trying to dam up her driveway in a rainstorm?
What makes this show so great is that it isn’t afraid to employ writing that’s savvy enough for adults to enjoy. Bluey navigates real conflicts, while her parents—the delightfully flawed Bandit and Chilli—work through believable, thoughtful issues of their own. This isn’t your average children’s show.
And now, with ten new episodes having dropped on Disney+ earlier this summer (they came out in Australia a whole year ago), the show is getting positively meta.
The rest of this article contains major spoilers for three 10-minute episodes of a children’s show. Proceed at your own risk.
In “Puppets,” the notorious Unicorse puppet has returned, and he’s fallen head over heels in love with Chilli. The problem, though, is that Unicorse—controlled by Bandit, who moves the puppet and does the voice—is averse to basic hygiene like showering and brushing his teeth. Bluey and Bingo teach him to be a gentleman, but he blows it by eating a tick in front of Chilli and scaring her off.
Where the episode gets wonderfully weird is when Unicorse finds out he’s a puppet. He goes through an existential crisis, which leads Bluey to briefly wonder if she’s a puppet, too. As she snuggles into bed, reassured by Bandit, the camera pans out and reveals an animation program with a human hand holding a pen. In a time-lapse sequence, the hand animates Bluey’s morning, choosing various mouths and ears from menus, and then the program compiles and plays the sequence. Bluey sits up, stretches and yawns, and comments on the weird dream she just had.
One of the best moments of the episodes is early on, when Bandit realizes what he’s gotten himself into with the whole Unicorse thing. He sighs, lying on the kitchen floor. “The thing is,” he says, “I do this to myself.” On one level, yeah, he and Chilli don’t have to play these elaborate games with their kids. On another level, though, he doesn’t do it to himself, because he lacks free will! Bandit Heeler is an unholy chimera made of animators, writers, and a voice actor! Whoa!
Then there’s “Stories,” which focuses on Bluey’s classmate Indy. Indy messes up a wax horse she’s working on, so she decides never to make art again. The credits roll, but Indy decides that that’s not the story she wants her life to be. So she starts the episode over and tells a new one, in which she and her friend Winton—who helpfully has superpowers in this version—figure out how to make her horse more horselike. Bonus: the episode features Lin-Manuel Miranda as a real(…?) horse!
There are other great moments in the new batch of episodes, too. In “Space,” for instance, Bluey’s friend Mackenzie gets sucked through a black hole and has to confront a childhood trauma. The internet is abuzz with possible interpretations of what exactly happens in that pivotal moment.
The best thing is that no matter how weird Bluey gets, my five-year-old is fully on board. She loves the animation sequence at the end of “Puppets.” She gasps with laughter at Winton’s antics in “Stories.” Bluey is proof that you don’t have to talk down to kids in order to entertain them. You can bring the strangest, most sophisticated writing into your stories, and they’ll keep up.
Bluey isn’t just the best children’s show out there—it’s one of the best shows, period. And like the best of children’s literature, you can find new things to appreciate about it no matter how old you are.
(featured image: Disney+)
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