The parents in Disney’s Bluey might not be as great as some parents of preschoolers think. Perhaps their entire lives are just one fantastical lie.
Disney’s Bluey is one of the most popular and successful shows in the history of children’s television programming. The show features a family of four dogs–heelers, as it were–two parents and two children–who seem to live every moment in harmony and peace. And should the occasional “situation” pop up, it’s okay because Bluey’s parents, Chilli and Bandit, always have a solution.
The “Perfect” Parents
They always have the answers, the time, the wherewithal, the strength, the stamina, and the selflessness to deal with anything their kids can throw at them. The animated canine parents even know how to flawlessly help their children understand the reality of death, the normalcy of relationship break-ups, and the incidence and heartbreak associated with infertility.
It’s enough to make non-animated human parents “feel like crap,” according to an article from Good Housekeeping.
For many parents of preschoolers, Disney’s animated Bluey can drum up comparisons–comparisons between human parents and the parents of the Heeler family, that ultimately create “envy and longing with a touch of shame” that often “leave [parents] feeling as though [they] come up short.”
“It’s Just a Show!”
While some viewers will offer up the “it’s just a kids’ show” sentiment, as a mom of four, this writer will counter that response with a response of her own–“just a kids’ show? Hardly.”
While Bluey is, in fact, a piece of children’s television programming–and a darn good one, too–the show’s uncanny knack for resonating with an audience of millions means it regularly hits home on several subjects. As is true of any movie or television show, consistently high ratings are indicative of the relatability of well-developed characters and scenarios within the storyline, especially when those storylines create an emotional connection for viewers.
Parents Don’t Have to Feel Bad About Themselves
In some episodes of Bluey, like the one titled “Taxi,” Bluey’s parents exude a sort of somewhat unattainable mindset for some who have little ones at home.
Chilli and Bandit find themselves stuck at home with the kids, but once again, it’s no problem because they know just what to do–they’ll fully immerse themselves in the imaginary world dreamed up by their children, which today includes driving a makeshift taxi cab–though not to the airport like Bandit originally thought. Are there meals to be prepared? Is there laundry to fold? Who’s mowing the yard today? And do mom and dad have work responsibilities?
Who knows? The episode doesn’t address those possibilities. All we know is that the kids want to play “taxi,” so it’s all hands on deck with dad riding in the cab with the kids and mom lying down in front of the cab to lend her voice to the GPS system in the “vehicle.”
Then again, an occasional episode of Bluey can leave some parents feeling pretty good about themselves–even thinking of themselves as better parents than Chilli and Bandit at times. Episode 22 of the third season of Bluey seems to bring Chilli and Bandit back down from their proverbial pedestals. The episode, titled “Whale Watching,” sees Bluey’s mom lying on the couch, stuffing herself with corn chips and guzzling soda.
And if Chilli’s unhealthy eating habits aren’t enough to make other moms feel better about the bag of chips and the box of chocolates we ate last night during a bout of food unconsciousness, it might help to point out that Chilli is reportedly drunk in the episode, rendering her unable to “jump out of the water” at her kids’ demands (because, you know, she’s supposed to be playing the whale that the children are watching):
“Bandit and Chilli are hungover after a New Year’s party, and they’re both dismayed when the kids expect them to play whale watching with them. Bandit has to be the boat, and Chilli has to be the whale, and the boat has to encounter rough seas, and the whale has to jump out of the water, and Bandit and Chilli don’t get any say in the matter even though it’s their household and they supposedly make the rules. But when Chilli turns on the TV and sees a whale mom caring for her calf, she succumbs to guilt and rises to the occasion. She’ll do anything for her kids.”
Of course, we can go right back to feeling bad about ourselves since, in true Bluey fashion, Chilli has an epiphany about how her current state is sullying her availability to her children, and suddenly, she snaps out of her drunken stupor.
Parents and “Parenting Guilt”
Parenting guilt is no respecter of person, of age, or of the children’s ages. It can affect any parent, at any time, for any reason–or for seemingly no reason at all. And for some parents of preschoolers, the parenting aspects seen in Bluey don’t help.
In an episode called “Fancy Restaurant,” Bluey and her sister Bingo serve their parents a disgusting buffet of who knows what–and the expressions on Chilli’s and Bandit’s faces say it all–what is that and how are we going to participate and not hurt the kids’ feelings? Apparently, the canine parents didn’t have an answer for that scenario, so Bandit wolfs down all of the plated offering–not a nibble that he cleverly spits out in a napkin after yelling, “Look! A bird!”
Then the two parents run outside, where Bandit proceeds to throw up everything in which he just . . . uh, indulged.
Scenarios like these in the show make some feel like maybe it’s Bluey’s mom and dad who aren’t exactly mentally sound in some way. Are they making up for something? Is parenting guilt at the wheel for them? Did they have awful childhoods that subsequently led them to take a vow of perfect parenting so they never run the risk of ruining their children?
In a piece for The Mary Sue, the author writes that she wishes “our culture didn’t train parents to hold ourselves to such ridiculous standards in the first place.”
Parents are so inundated with “advice” (much of which is actually lecturing, hand-wringing, and straight-up shaming) that we start to see everything as an indictment of our parenting skills. If Chilli can power through her headache and jump around like a whale, why can’t we? If Bandit is willing to tear up his stomach lining just to stoke his daughter’s fragile ego, why won’t we do the same? Don’t we love our kids?”
The moral of the proverbial story here is this–you don’t have to feel like crap (as Good Housekeeping puts it) if you don’t “stack up” to Chilli and Bandit and the hallmarks of canine parenting. After all, they don’t seem to have everything together after all.