Like most parents, I had resigned myself to the understanding that children’s programming was mostly terrible, featuring repetitive storylines, atrociously bad writing and gender stereotypes offensive enough to make you want to quit the Paw Patrol and never wear pink again…all set against a backdrop of fluorescent colors and cheesy tunes. So, imagine my surprise when I came across a show that not only was delightful to watch (both in my preschooler’s eyes and my own), but also featured an animated anthropomorphic dog that—and I don’t mean this ironically—is a role model for moms everywhere.
For those not familiar, Bluey is an Australian kids’ show about a family of dogs: dad Bandit, mom Chilli and their two young daughters Bluey and Bingo. It’s funny, sweet, and manages to achieve the seemingly impossible when it comes to kids’ TV: to be engaging but not overstimulating, educational but not pedantic and—most importantly—actually enjoyable for the parents too. (It also incredibly has a following among non parents.) Each episode centers around the regular domestic happenings of this young family, typically through the lens of a wacky game that the kids have invented. But what the show is really about is the magic (and exhaustion) of child-rearing.
No small part of the charm comes down to the matriarch, Chilli Heeler. Chilli is funny, down to earth and quietly cool; she reminds me of my favorite mom friend from my son’s class. In other words, she’s exceedingly relatable and just the right amount of aspirational.
Like in the episode “Baby Race,” when Chilli perfectly captures the pressures of being a first-time parent. The new mom is stressing over Bluey’s crawling and walking, even asking the doctor if there’s anything wrong with her. And look, I have two kids now so some of that parenting anxiety has definitely lessened but you’d better believe that at my daughter’s one-year appointment last week I had a list of questions for the doctor about whether or not her behavior was “normal.” The pressure is real, people.