‘Bluey’ is making the world a magical place

Zoe Leone, Arts & Life Editor

These days, when anyone asks me how I’m doing, my default answer is usually, “stressed.” With the semester coming to a close and my to-do list only growing longer, some days my outlets for stress relief seem like the only thing getting me through the day.

For some college students, these outlets might be going to the gym after class or spending time with friends on the Quad during a nice day. But for me, there’s only one sure-fire way to temporarily shake my anxieties away: watching an episode of “Bluey.”

“Bluey” is an animated TV show that first premiered in 2018 in Australia, with the Walt Disney Company gaining international broadcasting rights the following year. Whether it’s airing live down under (new episodes of season three are currently airing in Australia) or being streamed on Disney+, the series has become a smash hit for both cable and streaming viewers.

The show follows the titular character, Bluey, a 6-year-old Blue Heeler puppy who lives in Brisbane, Australia with her mom, Chilli, her dad, Bandit and her little sister, Bingo. While the Heeler family is generally the main focus of the show, a wide cast of friends, families and neighbors of all different dog breeds make regular appearances.

While the initial target audience of “Bluey” was preschoolers, it’s found a dedicated group of fans that range much older than 3-5 years old. The official “Bluey” account on TikTok currently has 2.3 million followers, while the show’s hashtag has accumulated over five billion views. Scrolling through videos will show a mix of parents happily watching the show without their children, 20 year olds boasting about their binge watching and edits of scenes set to Taylor Swift songs.

I was first exposed to the show over the summer, when I was spending my days chasing after 3-year-olds who call me “Miss Zoe.” We were having our daily argument of whether the room was going to watch “Encanto” or “Cocomelon.” Suddenly, a pudgy toddler finger was pointing at the TV screen and I heard a shriek of “I want to watch Bluey!”

I’d never heard of it before, but I was more than happy to put something on that I hadn’t already seen 10 times that week. Three nine-minute-long episodes later and I found myself sitting in a chair in front of the TV, a kid in my lap, staring at the screen in a joyous trance. I had consumed a fair amount of media aimed for small children in that daycare room, but there was something different about “Bluey.”

Flash forward to now and “Bluey” has somehow become a part of my regular television rotation. Whether it’s the end of a long day of classes or I’m in need of recovery from a night out, I find myself pulling up Disney+ and taking solace in the familiar up-beat theme song.

It makes sense that the series has found a loving home with parents, but it begs the question: what is it about “Bluey” that connects with college students?

“Kids’ cartoons can be a support treatment because they incorporate themes like community order, friendship, family, teamwork, that good always wins over evil, and that the sun will always come out tomorrow,” said Dr. Laurel Steinberg, a New York psychotherapist, in an interview with VICE. “They can help restore optimism and give someone a break from worrying or feeling sad, all of which can elevate mood.”

Ultimately, “Bluey” is about a lot more than an anthropomorphic — an animation style that gives human traits, personalities and emotions to non-human things — family of dogs. While a lot of the episodes follow a slice of life style, these small looks into everyday life always include the big stuff.

Whether it’s Bingo or Bluey dealing with their big emotions, Bandit and Chilli worrying that they’re not great parents or even dealing with topics such as divorce, death and grief or infertility, the writers do not skip over the hard things in life just because the show is aimed at kids. Instead, they’re repackaged in a way that lands softer in the minds of children, or in this case, college students.

So as Chilli tells Bluey, “The world’s a magical place!” And thanks to this show, I think a lot of us believe it just might be.