Bringing an oasis of fun to the blazing “dog days” of summer, Bluey season three premiered this week on Disney+— with 25 more playful seven-minute episodes for families to enjoy.
The series centers around simple games contrived by two preschool Blue Heeler dog siblings, while Dad or Mom play along until things usually go awry.
But why has an animated kids' show become a global obsession? Bluey recently extended its long run on the Nielsen Top 10 streaming charts, alongside hits like NCIS and The Big Bang Theory. A stage show hits the U.S. this fall, and show merch is everywhere.
Interviewed for a recent Los Angeles Times feature story, Bluey writer-creator Joe Brumm revealed the heart of the show.
“(It’s) about the rhythms of life and how good it is for kids to have those rhythms — the small ones and the larger ones,” he said.
In turn, the show has become part of many families’ routines; before storybook and prayers, my wife and I usually let our two toddlers watch Bluey.
By celebrating everyday experiences in colorful stories, this nuclear doggo family sparks uncommon passion and cultural discussion.
1) Kids Long to Play and Be Silly With Their Parents
Brumm has shared often how his girls’ invented games inspire escapades of on-screen sisters Bluey and Bingo. Classic toddler games like “keepy uppy” (involving balloons) and climbing the parents (or “Mount Mumandad,” as the show has it) are depicted, along with wildly creative ones.
Bluey executive producer Daley Pearson explained their approach to the Times.
“Play is a child’s first draft of life,” he said. “That’s where you learn responsibility and compromise and all that tough stuff and great stuff.”
Nearly every day, our toddlers ask us to join in a game like “ticklecrabs,” that they first learned on Bluey.
2) Parents See Ourselves In the Characters and Relationships
As much as it draws kids in, Bluey concurrently spotlights doggy parents Bandit and Chilli.
For instance, “Baby Race” deals with the subtle-and-sometimes-not competition among moms regarding their kids’ development milestones, while “Cafe” comments on modern-day challenges of adult friendships.
When praising the show as “addictive, joyous, and witty,” a writer for The Guardian spent much of his feature confessing inadequacy watching Bluey’s dad play at his kids’ level.
This season, the parents aren’t so perfect—Bandit gets frustrated when Bluey can’t focus long enough to learn his beloved chess, while Chilli comes back from the brink of being overwhelmed.
3) Kids Love the Fun and Memorable Music (Actually, Parents, Too)
Many children’s TV shows cheaply rely on about a dozen music cues, replayed incessantly. With Bluey, other than the theme song, every episode has a unique soundtrack courtesy of composer Joff Bush.
"For seven minutes of Bluey, I probably spend more time on that than I've spent on an hour of [other] TV,” said Bush in a recent interview.
Along with original tunes, Bush mixes in melodies from Tchaikovsky, Pachelbel, and — in an imaginative space-based episode — Gustav Holst's The Planets.
Intending to bring concert-hall standards down from any pedestal, the composer says: "There's something really fun about taking these well-known classical tunes (and) messing with them a bit."
4) Parents Consider Bluey a Family-Focused Version of Seinfeld
Inspired by landmark sitcom Seinfeld, which squeezed maximum laughs out of routine situations like parking lots or eating yogurt, some Bluey episodes follow this template with hilarious results.
As Bandit and kids wait for a to-go order, havoc ensues in “Takeaway”; while, in “Flat Pack,” the parents manage to assemble an Ikea furniture piece.
This season, watch for “Omelette,” about kids making breakfast, and “Phones” as grandparents navigate technology.
And, like Seinfeld, Bluey increasingly features a few sly celebrity cameos. In these new episodes, listen for Oscar winner Natalie Portman as a nature documentary narrator in “Whale Watching,” and actress Eva Mendes in “Born Yesterday.”
5) Kids Relate to How These Dogs Think, Talk and Explore
From the start, creator Brumm has been adamant that his show will never scold viewers and teach heavy-handed moral lessons.
Bluey is about the wide-eyed wonder of kids: learning new games, meeting new friends, and discovering beauty in the world around us.
In that simplicity, one family’s adventures reflect many truths — about taking risks, protecting innocence, and having empathy for others. Perhaps that’s why Bluey has been so widely embraced worldwide.
Another internationally produced kids show getting buzz this summer, Lovely Little Farm, also weaves healthy doses of imagination into its depiction of daily family routines. That program, which includes both live-action animals alongside lifelike puppets, can be found on Apple TV+.
Season three of Bluey is now streaming worldwide on Disney+.
Image: Ludo Studio
Josh M. Shepherd covers culture, faith and public-policy issues for various media outlets. He and his wife are raising two children in Northern Virginia.