After this article at Vulture, we started watching this show, and it has quickly become our family’s favorite show. And probably my favorite show of the year.
It’s a show that makes it clear that mom Chili is the one with the “real” job or career, and dad (Bandit) spends a lot, or most of his time, taking care of Bluey and Bingo—his daughters. They’re 6 and 4-years-old. What makes this show refreshing is it is suburban—it’s about a home life that isn’t repetitive like Peppa Pig or fanciful like Puffin Rock. It combines the best of both worlds: sounding beautiful because the voice acting is Australian and the setting is everyday at-home play. The animation is superb, beautifully rounded corners, and subtle character cues filled with happiness that even silent, their tails wag showing how much Mom and Dad love being with their kids despite those kids Monty Pythonish escapades.
I could do 50 or so blog posts on each episode where there was a particularly vibrant scene in “Trampoline” where Dad has to go to work but is having too much fun playing with Bluey and Bingo on their new trampoline. He tries to break away on multiple occasions, but when he does finally, Bluey asks Bandit why he has to go and Bandit says because he has to work some and puts his laptop in his backpack. Bluey asks him what her work is. “Your work is playing and coming up with games.”
This is something I say to my kids all the time. “Why do I have to go to school, dad?” or “Why do you have to go to work?” which is what they’ll say when I leave later today for some appointments. “Because it’s my job to teach people, and it’s your job to play and be with your friends.”
An excellent article on the Father-hood talks with Bluey creator Joe Brumm and how the show is autobiographical. He says:
When the kids come along it’s like: ‘Well, your wants and needs are now completely irrelevant. You’re here to provide’.”
“For me as a dad, that was quite difficult. And we try and show that with Bandit. In an episode like /Fruitbat/, the point was to show all the things he really wants to do, he doesn’t get to do. There’s a few echoes of longing from him, but there’s not a trace of regret. Bandit is happy with the trade he’s made. He’s accepted it. And it’s such a beautiful trade…”
Even though you have household responsibilities like mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, cleaning toilets, and bath time with the kids. Which if you do it in a bathroom like mine, hearing their screams is, as a Brumm says, “a post-graduate degree in pain.”
That’s what I’ve learned, probably more than anything, in the last two years is how important it is to play. Bluey has helped significantly with learning to go with the flow of my kids’ play and basically set aside any agenda I may have.
Finally, your work should be as close to playing as you can get it—or at least not get in the way of your play which if you’re a parent to young kids your job is to be with them. That’s the most essential occupation you have now. That the goal of life—for me anyway—is to make it more like play. That’s what it means to have a good life, and that’s something I look forward to doing in these next two weeks when there is no childcare, just grandparents and uncles coming into town to play as much as they can before they have to go back to the “real” world.
I could talk some more about why it’s a great show, and what it means for me as a dad, but instead, I’ll just say: watch it even if you don’t have kids. I think thirty years from now, my kids will (hopefully) remember when I played with them and showed them that my work is play.