A scene from Bluey’s ‘The Sign’ episode (Screengrab: TVNZ)
A scene from Bluey’s ‘The Sign’ episode (Screengrab: TVNZ)

Pop CultureApril 27, 2024

I saw ‘The Sign’, and it opened up my eyes: All the fuss around Bluey, explained

A scene from Bluey’s ‘The Sign’ episode (Screengrab: TVNZ)
A scene from Bluey’s ‘The Sign’ episode (Screengrab: TVNZ)

Tara Ward unravels the many nuanced layers of a cartoon about talking dogs.

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It’s not often an episode of a children’s cartoon has adults sobbing into their sleeves, but that’s exactly what happened this week when Australian kids’ show Bluey dropped a special extended 28-minute episode. Bluey has become a global phenomenon that captivates audiences both young and old, but why is it so popular? Here’s everything you need to know about why Bluey should be your next must-watch TV show – even if you don’t have kids.

Is it really just a kids’ show about some talking dogs?

No way. A standard six-minute episode of Bluey gives more insight into the human condition than a lot of grown-up TV shows, and does it with more heart and humour. If you’ve never seen it before, Bluey is a comfort blanket of a series that tells sweet and gentle stories about the everyday lives of Bluey, a seven-year-old Australian blue heeler, her younger sister Bingo, and their parents Bandit and Chilli.

Bluey, Chilli, Bingo and Bandit (Photo: Supplied)

For kids, Bluey is a bright and colourful show about some relatable young pups, but for adults, it’s a show with much deeper layers. It’s a fun reminder of how kids see the world around them and a realistic portrayal of the joys and frustrations of parenting, and they’ll also resonate with the more mature themes (some episodes touch on grief, loss, miscarriage and mental health).

This universal appeal is why Bluey’s New Zealand director Richard Jeffrey believes the cartoon is so popular. “Anyone can watch it with a family anywhere in the world, and say ‘oh my god, that’s my life’,” he told The Spinoff last year. There’s nothing sanctimonious or condescending about Bluey, and watching how Bandit and Chilli deal with problems might just be the best parenting advice you’ll get.

How popular is Bluey, really?

Since 2018, Bluey has broadcasted in over 60 countries and won an International Emmy, several Logies and a BAFTA. In New Zealand, Bluey was TVNZ+’s most streamed show (a whopping 29 million streams) in 2022, as well as the number one programme across all on-demand platforms in Australia and the eighth most streamed show in the US. For a kids’ show, that’s impressive. Not even Jem and the Holograms pulled those kinds of numbers.

Why is everyone talking about Bluey at the moment?

New episodes of Bluey have dropped around the world (including TVNZ+) this month, including a special 28 minute episode called ‘The Sign’. 10 million Disney+ viewers around the world watched ‘The Sign’ during its release week, which translates to about 291.2 million viewing minutes.

I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes (Screengrab: TVNZ+)

So what’s the deal with ‘The Sign’?

Grab your tissues, ‘The Sign’ got me good. At first glance, it’s a typically fun and funny episode of Bluey hijinks – after all, who doesn’t remember the exhilaration of sitting in the front seat of the car for the first time? But amid all the wedding preparations and car chases, Bandit has a new job in another city and the Heeler house is for sale. Whether Bluey likes it or not, change is headed her way.

‘The Sign’ is about venturing into the unknown, and about how sometimes in life, you’re not guaranteed a happy ending. There’s literally a big “for sale” sign in front of Bluey’s house, but there’s other subtle signs – the return of Flappy the butterfly, Greeny the green balloon – that suggest things will turn out OK. Bluey discovers that bad and unexpected things always happen, but good things can come from them too.

It’s an episode full of emotion: the sadness of Bluey leaving her home, the joy of a family wedding, the adventure of cruising around town in the passenger seat. Don’t be surprised if you’re crying buckets of tears by the end. ‘The Sign’ has such an emotional finale that some fans assumed it was the show’s last episode, but producer Sam Moor assured viewers that there’s more Bluey to come.

I’m an adult. Am I legally allowed to watch Bluey? And where should I start?

Absolutely. It might be a kids’ show, but you’ll be quickly won over by the humour, the relatable observations and heartwarming relationships. Start with award-winning episode Sleepytime, follow it up with Whale Watching (Bandit and Chilli parent with a hangover), Camping, Grandad and Stumpfest – and then dive into all 151 episodes from the very start.

Bluey is available to stream on TVNZ+. 

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