Disney’s Bluey continues to grow in popularity around the world, gaining new fans almost constantly. Its unconventional approach to children’s educational programming, as well as its popularity among preschoolers, older children, parents, and grandparents, make it stand out among other entertainment offerings for young children.
But a recent attempt at humor by the show’s creator might have given some fans a very different view of the fan-favorite Australian show for children, had Disney and others not stepped in to put a stop to it.
‘Bluey’ Stands Out
Bluey is by far one of the most popular offerings in television programming of any age range, and in the category of children’s programming, the adorable show about the Heeler family–Bluey, her younger sister Bingo, and her parents Chilli and Bandit–is changing the way people think about kids’ shows and about children’s educational programs.
The show originated in Australia in 2018, and in 2019, Disney bought the broadcast rights to the show, making it available to young viewers and their families in the United States on Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney+.
Gone are the days when children’s shows meant only puppets, written letters of the alphabet, and poorly animated blurbs about safety and the importance of brushing our teeth. There are any number of children’s educational shows available to children, whether on public television stations or cable TV stations. But none of them do what Bluey has done.
‘Bluey’ is Intentionally Different
Joe Brumm, the Australian animator who first created Bluey after the show was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC, does things a little differently. As such, you won’t find counting, reading, alphabets, or numerals in most episodes of Bluey.
Instead, you’ll find lots of imaginative play, communication between family members, and modeling of good behavior. All together, these things work to teach little ones–and viewers of all ages–what it means to be a member of a family and how to interact with others socially. The show also touches on good hygiene, self-esteem, and the like–though not in a mundane or off-putting way.
‘Bluey’ and the Taboo Topics
Though many children’s programs stay away from certain topics, the creators and producers of Bluey dive headfirst into all of them.
Since the show first debuted in 2018, writers of the show have tackled the tough topics–some that are considered “taboo” topics in children’s shows. The show has touched on miscarriages, aging adults, hangovers, relationship break-ups, learning differences, and more.
The creators of the show have received both praise and backlash for the inclusion of such topics. Some parents are grateful that the show opens up communication about these topics in a way that makes it less threatening and uncomfortable for them to talk with their little ones.
Some, however, have gone so far as to caution other parents about allowing their children to watch Bluey because of the introduction of difficult subject matter from time to time. So far, however, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, and Disney have given the show a green light on these topics. But recently, the creators of Bluey were given a red light when an attempt at humor went too far.
‘Bluey’ Goes Too Far
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, animator and creator of Bluey Joe Brumm said that a joke that was to be included in an episode of the show got the axe from network executives.
Brumm said that writers had originally worked a joke about Jesus into an episode in the series. But what Brumm intended as a few seconds of humor in the episode was ultimately cut before final production, as it
“When I grew up, I went to a Catholic school,” Brumm explained, “and so you mixed with a lot of kids who were Catholics, but also with a lot who weren’t. And the ones who weren’t just had not heard of anything to do with religion or Jesus.”
With that memory in mind, the Australian animator said he had added a short scene in an episode that had to do with Jesus’s miracle of walking on water.
He described the scene, saying, “There [was] just a little line in there where they’re pretending all the sunlight is water, and they’re going, ‘But you know we can’t get to the things,’ and they go, ‘Well, maybe we can walk on water.’ And they go, ‘No one can walk on water.’ And I was going to have Snickers say, ‘Jesus can.’ And Bluey just says, ‘Who’s Jesus?’ And then we’d move on.”
‘Bluey’ Creators Get a “No” From Network Executives
But quick-thinking executives with several networks quickly voiced their concerns when they heard about the “joke” Brumm wanted to include in an episode of Bluey, ultimately giving Brumm and his team the red light on the addition and telling them to scrap it.
Brumm says the attempt at humor was “quickly shot down” by network executives, including those at the BBC, the ABC (in Australia), and Disney.
The show is now in its third season, and there’s talk about the creators taking a break before writing and producing the fourth season–a decision that has been met with backlash from fans who can’t imagine going without new episodes of Bluey for any length of time. But as there have been no definite timelines shared thus far, it remains to be seen when and whether the team will take that sabbatical.
As for the animator’s attempt at what he considered humorous with regard to a joke about Jesus in a Bluey episode, it’s safe to say that while some might not have even noticed such an addition, there are many fans of the children’s show from around the world who would likely be grateful to those network execs who said no, simply out of respect for their beliefs, this writer included.