An animated series about a family of blue heeler dogs living in Australia has become a global phenomenon. Bluey has been ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 100 Sitcoms of All Time, its related toys are among the most in-demand globally, and recently it hit the U.S. Top 10 Streaming Shows charts from Nielsen four weeks in a row.
Why are people obsessed with these seven-minute Bluey episodes, where kids play games and things inevitably get out of hand? In this special podcast spanning three nations, host Roger Palmer (U.K.) and guest host Josh Shepherd (U.S.) welcome Australian mom and PR professional Mary Bolling, co-host of Gotta Be Done — the original Bluey podcast.
Together they explore why the world loves Bluey . . . how it has such wide appeal, plus secrets from behind-the-scenes thanks to Mary’s vast knowledge. Created by animator/producer Joe Brumm and produced by Ludo Studio, Bluey got a huge boost when Disney licensed it for global distribution. When Disney Plus launched just months prior to a worldwide pandemic, the playful show became a creative means for kids and parents to connect.
Seasons one and two of Bluey are currently available on Disney Plus in most countries. As parents of young kids, on different sides of the globe, Mary and Josh discuss what they see as standout episodes — and engage with viewers’ dialogue about the show’s depictions of parenting. Are dog parents Bandit and Chilli too idealized? Do the games go too far?
As noted by all, every family’s personality is a bit different though the nature of kids remains constant. “If you’re going to watch Bluey, you’ve got to accept as a base that kids are naturally cheeky,” says Mary. “It is the cheekiness of Bluey and Bingo that drive so much of the games.”
Show creator Joe Brumm has said often that he and his wife’s two daughters inspired the focus of Bluey on children’s play. “The main lightning strike I had (was) watching them play,” he said in an interview. “These games that we’re playing at like five in the morning, and then you never do again, go in some weird directions and I thought could be funny to animate. While I was in the middle of it, I remembered it, wrote it down, and we made episodes about that.”
While he makes it sound simple, Brumm and the Ludo team bring groundbreaking creativity and excellence in storytelling and animation to Bluey. On their Gotta Be Done Podcast, Mary and her co-host Kate McMahon have interviewed the show creator twice (including recently), actress Melanie Zanetti who plays “Chilli,” and composer Joff Bush along with other show talent.
On our episode, Mary, Josh, and Roger discuss the show’s appeal across national and cultural lines. Phrases native to Australia like “brekky” are being heard at kitchen tables a world away, while many parents have Googled animals like “bin chicken” and, appearing in every Bluey episode, the long dog. Speaking to the Independent, Brumm said: “There’s not even a slight inkling to me to hide the Australianness in it.”
With the first half (26 episodes) of Bluey season three having already aired in Australia, and the rest premiering soon, Mary previews a few stories that families can look forward to when it arrives on Disney Plus worldwide — likely late in 2022. She also talks about Bluey’s Big Play, a live 44-minute stage show currently touring in venues across Australia.
Yet Joe Brumm also recently hinted that his creative leadership on the show could phase out in coming years, as he pursues projects in adult animation. Our podcast discussion speculates about what that means for the future of Bluey, a show that celebrates the imagination of kids and struggles of parenting in a format full of laughs.
Be sure to check out Gotta Be Done Podcast, which Mary Bolling co-hosts, for in-depth commentary and reviews of essentially every Bluey episode plus behind-the-scenes interviews.
For our discussion, you can watch the video above
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Freelance journalist Josh M. Shepherd covers culture and entertainment for several media outlets, including articles on Disney Plus, the surprising impact of Mary Poppins and Disney nostalgia. A graduate of the University of Colorado, Josh and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their son.