The List: Seven episodes that prove ‘Bluey’ is the best kids' show on TV
Laugh and cry along with the Heeler family
Most TV made for kids is bad. And some of it is really, really bad (see: “PJ Masks,” “Caillou” and almost everything produced for children by Netflix). But there are gems out there, and at the moment none shine quite as bright as “Bluey,” an Australian series available to stream on Disney+ since January of 2020.
The cartoon centers on the Heelers, a family of dogs who live in Brisbane: a mom, Chilli; a dad, Bandit; and daughters, Bingo and Bluey. The show has aired more than 100 episodes, each of which is roughly seven minutes long, with most focused on the mundanity of everyday life, like “Seinfeld” filtered through the eyes of children.
But it’s this filter that makes the show so magical, bringing to life the sense of imagination that is so pronounced in childhood. On “Bluey,” common activities like digging up tree stumps and picking up carry-out become opportunities for play. And it’s not just the kids, either. Witness the episode where Bandit patiently takes on the role of a mountain as his kids play two mountaineers trying to gradually make their way up his body.
It helps that these sillier moments are often accompanied by scenes that will hit parents in an entirely different way, such as in “Copycat,” which begins with Bluey hilariously repeating everything her father says, and then gradually becomes a meditation on death and the importance of embracing life after the pair stumble upon an injured bird. Indeed, the show has regularly made me tear up while watching it with our daughters in the morning before daycare.
Here are seven of the episodes, ranked from great to greatest, that prove “Bluey” is currently the best kids' show on TV.
Parents will identify with the frustration that Bandit and Chilli experience in trying to assemble a newly ordered piece of furniture, as well as with the imagination the children display in turning the discarded packaging materials into an imaginative world.
During a family camping trip, Bluey becomes fast friends with a boy from a neighboring site, the two spending their days building a tent of sticks and leaves, playing in the river and developing elaborate plots to catch Bluey's dad. When Bluey awakens one morning to find the boy and his family have left, she must negotiate the emotions that come with losing a new friend, helped along by Chilli, who reminds her daughter that even fleeting relationships can enrich our lives in magical ways.
Here, the Heeler kids join their grandpa in what amounts to an extended chase scene, the three trying to evade Chilli, who is insistent her aging father take time to rest. The payoff comes in the final shot, which ranks among the best in the series, with Chilli seated beside her father, watching her kids swim in the same lake where she once played as a child. “I remember when you used to take me here. That was a long time ago,” Chilli says. “Nah,” Grandad answers as Chilli morphs into a child onscreen. “It was yesterday.” (And, yes, I welled up just typing that.)
I already detailed this one above, but no episode in the series better balances humor and heartache. This was the one that first hooked me into the “Bluey” world.
Visually, this one of the most stunning “Bluey” episodes, with much of it unfolding amid Bingo’s dreams (plus, the music, taken from Holst's "Jupiter" is pitch-perfect). But the episode is also anchored by a strong story, with the youngest Heeler intent on spending her first night in her “big girl bed.” They grow up so fast, even in cartoons.
If the “Seinfeld” Chinese restaurant episode was set within the world of a children’s show, it might look something like this. Bluey and Bingo tag along with Bandit, who simply wants to pick up a carry-out order and get home. When the trio is forced to wait five minutes on some missing spring rolls, the whole scene spirals giddily out of control, with the kids becoming gradually more unmanageable. Aside from the wonderful physical comedy, complete with an outdoor potty emergency that made me legit LOL, the episode serves as a reminder that sometimes it’s best to just let kids be kids.
There are lessons in here both for parents and kids, largely centered on the idea that everyone progresses at their own pace. Plus, like “Grandad,” the episode ends with an absolute tear-jerker of a scene, as baby Bluey takes her first steps toward her mom and… OK, now I have something in both of my eyes. Someone hand me a tissue, please.
If you’re looking to sample the show, a few episodes are currently available via the official “Bluey” YouTube channel, including “Hotel Bluey,” which you can watch in full below.