I’ve been gently trying to steer my preschooler away from “Sofia the First” and “PJ Masks” for a while now.
It’s not that the shows are bad—though “PJ Masks” adherence to plot formula basically means if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It’s that I’ve seen them so many times, I just can’t take it anymore.
So, a few weeks ago when my daughter clicked on an image of a happy blue dog to launch “Bluey” within the DisneyNow app, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped we’d found something good.
From the cute theme song to the feel-good ending, it was delightful. Charming. Genuinely funny. Modern and authentic.
We’ve since watched all the episodes Disney Junior has of the Ludo Studios/Australian Broadcasting Corporation/BBC Studios show. And, they’re all good, as I’ve raved to my friends with young kids who were looking for relief from shows like “Bubble Guppies” and “Paw Patrol” (again, not bad, just no more). And my karma must be doing OK because Disney is launching new episodes starting Oct. 21.
If you’re skeptical about a foursome of blue heelers with Australian accents can reflect a modern American family, let me explain.
‘Bluey’ is just. so. good.
I’ll start with “Markets,” the first episode my daughter and I watched.
Bluey, a 6-year-old puppy, proudly tells her dad, Bandit, the tooth fairy gave her $5. Dad spits out his cereal and asks, “Five bucks?!” He looks at mom, Chilli, who assures him that’s the amount the fairy left all Bluey’s friends.
“Well, that tooth fairy is doing well for herself, isn’t she?” he asks, winking at mom and Bluey, who’s in the background doing the flossing dance with excitement.
The dog family, which includes Bluey’s little sister Bingo, goes to the market.
Bluey and her friend go from booth to booth, trying to decide what to spend her $5 on. They find a “pony lady” who’s charging $5 to ride miniature ponies. Bluey hands over her money, then learns she only has enough for one rider and it would cost $10 for both girls to ride.
“I only want to go if Indy can come,” she says, deciding to get her money back and continue looking for a treat.
Next up, is the German sausage booth. But Indy tells Bluey her mom won’t let her eat sausage because it has “additives,” stumbling over the pronunciation. At a dessert booth, Indy asks the vendor if the doughnuts have “wheat, sugar, gluten or dairy?”
“That’s all they’ve got in them,” he responds.
Feeling her money burning a hole in her pocket, Bluey caves to pressure and buys a toffee apple after the vendor says there’s only one left. She immediately regrets her decision, especially since her friend can’t share the treat. Bluey asks her dad to have her $5 back.
“That’s not really how it works, kiddo,” he explains. “Once you’ve spent money, it’s, well, gone.”
Bluey is bummed, so her friend comforts her: “Don’t worry, Bluey. My mom always says to me, ‘What goes around, comes around.’”
“What does that mean?” Bluey asks.
“I dunno,” Indy says.
Cue music and a montage plays to illustrate Bluey’s $5, which the tooth fairy marked with a sticker, move from the toffee apple vendor to the German sausage booth and eventually to Indy’s mom’s sugar-, dairy-, gluten-free dessert booth. Bluey and Indy are shocked to see the money come full circle.
So there—in a short, seven-minute episode—my daughter and I both laughed and learned about friendship, special diets, personal finance and the economy. From a family of dogs.
Bluey’s family is brilliant
The other thing I love about “Bluey” is the family dynamic.
Dad parents. He’s sarcastic, sympathetic and silly (watch the “Takeaway” episode). Mom works. She’s fun and the voice of reason. She saves an otherwise disastrous day during “The Pool.” Bingo and Bluey love each other but have to navigate sisterhood by learning how to include each other (watch “Butterflies”) and compromise (watch “Grannies”).
Sprinkle in endearing details like the way the kids giggle and the nonsense questions they ask, I don’t hesitate to say yes when my daughter asks, “Can I watch another one, mom?” because I want more, too.
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