I try to exercise some level of control over what my kids watch. I’m not so much worried about them watching something wildly inappropriate as I am something wildly crappy. After sitting through a few episodes of The Wiggles, I was determined to never let something like that infiltrate my house again. I first heard of Bluey when my wife mentioned it. She had watched an episode with the kids, and said it was kind of like Peppa Pig – which is poorly animated trash with a British accent, and not even the charming Hugh Grantian kind of British accent. A feeling of dread immediately hit me. Of course my kids would love it and it would be there new favorite, and I’d be forced to sit though hours upon hours of it. When my kids first asked to watch it with me, I braced myself for the worst and took solace in seeing that an episode was only 8 minutes long. As I watched, my mind was blown. It was actually good, nay, great.
One character in particular jumped off the screen, Bluey’s dad. Since the creation of TV, the dad character has always been a dope. He forgets birthdays, he puts too much soap in the dishwasher, his zany scheme backfires, and he ends up with (often literal) pie on his face. Sure, the Danny Tanners or Carl Winslows of the world would have their moments. The violins would start in the background and they’d sit somebody down and teach a heartfelt lesson. It would end with a “thanks Dad” from the kid and an “awwwww” from the studio audience. However, at the core of even these now iconic TV dads was a dope. Their parental abilities existed only when they needed to teach a lesson at the end of a kid-centered story line. Leave it to an animated blue Australian dog to finally come around and provide the televised role model dads have needed for years.
Bluey’s Dad Actually Plays
The majority the interaction we see with Bluey and her dad is when they are playing some kind of pretend. Make no mistake, he ishere to play. He’s not watching her play, he’s as into it as she is. He doesn’t have one eye on the TV and one on the pretend doctor’s office. He is a fully active participant. If that isn’t model behavior for a dad then I don’t know what is. When my kids want me to play with them, I recognize myself saying something like “In a minute, I need to [insert some task that isn’t as important as playing with with my kids] first.” And I’ll feel guilty about that, because that’s not what Bluey’s dad would do. He would immediately stop loading the dishwasher and go work the counter at a pretend fish and chips stand. Dishes can wait, collecting dollar bucks for chippies can’t.
The times when he has mentioned wanting to take a nap or watch cricket instead of doing whatever Bluey wants to do are always quickly dismissed. He’s not there to watch cricket, he’s there to be a good dad. I’m sure he watches cricket on his own time, but never on Bluey’s. A parent’s time is not their own, and Bluey’s dad gets it.
Bluey’s Dad Is Great at Pretend
Bluey’s dad is nothing if not committed. The way he dives into every game of make believe is inspiring. He’s not here to half-ass it. When a magic asparagus turns him into a meerkat, you truly believe he’s a meerkat because he believes he’s a meerkat. Method acting at its finest. Its a shame we’ll never have the opportunity to see him interviewed by James Lipton.
He almost never breaks character. Even as Telemecus is subjected to needle after needle at the pretend doctor, he forces himself to stay in character as much as possible. When he’s baby Didums in the supermarket, he understands the ridiculousness of it, but he doesn’t dismiss the premise. He takes “yes-and” to another level. He accepts the role he is assigned to play, and completely makes it his own. He is the Daniel Day-Lewis of children’s make believe.
Bluey’s Dad Is Actually a Good Parent
Playing with your kids is great, and being good at pretend is fun, but Bluey’s dad actually does quality parenting as well. He’s silly with a purpose. While Daddy Robot seems to be going crazy, he’s actually teaching a valuable lesson – no violin background music needed. His lessons resonate without being heavy handed. Sometimes his pretend is just fun, and sometimes it is teaching, but the approach is the same – he’s relating to his kids in a way they will understand. He’d rather persuade by being Veranda Santa than by saying “because I said so.”
He also doesn’t shy away from the serious teaching moments, including the heaviest of lessons. When Bluey finds a badly injured bird, not only does he not dismiss it with an “ask your mother,” but he takes it to the vet with her and waits with her only to find out that it dies. He is there for Bluey as she process the concept of death without feeling the need to provide the punchline. Something that you definitely don’t get out of other TV dads. I love the character of Phil Dunphy, but even in the episodes where his own parents die, he can’t resist the call to be a doofus. Where others are comic relief first and parents second, Bluey’s dad is a parent at all times.
Despite the fact that he is a cartoon dog, he is completely relatable. If you’d not seen it, I highly recommend the episode “Takeaway.” Take a few minutes to watch it, I’ll wait.
If it is possible to perfectly encapsulate the chaos and joy of parenthood in a few minutes, this accomplishes it. It’s not that he doesn’t get frustrated, but how he handles the frustration that is inspiring. My new guiding philosophy in parenting is “What Would Bluey’s Dad Do?”, and I don’t think it will steer me wrong.
Plus, by all accounts he’s a cool dad. He has the best dance moves in the opening credits. He’s an archeologist. He drives a cool looking SUV. His name is Bandit for God sakes. If I knew nothing else about him, that would be enough to be enough to make him a dad worth paying attention to.