It’s one of the questions to which even diehard fans of the children’s program just can’t find the answer. It’s something that fans of all ages have wondered about for a while now, and even as they sit down to watch another episode, the question is still on their minds, though the answer continues to elude them.
We’re talking, of course, about the question fans have had for years now about Disney’s Bluey: What the heck makes it so popular? And more specifically, why do we keep coming back for more?
What is ‘Bluey’?
For those who don’t know–and those new to the Bluey-verse, Bluey is an Australian children’s program that doesn’t follow the same rules or template that other children’s programs seem to follow. Though it is an educational program, Bluey doesn’t include counting, numbers, reading, or the alphabet. Rather, the show’s creators wanted imagination to serve as a tool for learning.
The show, which was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the BBC in 2017 and originally created for preschool-aged children, follows the daily adventures of family life for the Heelers: Bluey, a blue heeler puppy, her younger sister Bingo, a red heeler puppy, and Bluey’s mum and dad, Chilli and Bandit.
The show debuted in Australia in 2018, the work of Australian animator Joe Brumm and Ludo Studio in Queensland, and the show was an instant sensation among children in the show’s targeted age range. But soon, a phenomenon with the show’s popularity became glaringly evident.
‘Bluey’ Fandom Trends Don’t Follow the Norms
In the same way that Bluey doesn’t follow the traditional ways of children’s educational programming, its fans don’t follow the norms either.
While you might expect the show, which is geared toward preschoolers, to be most popular among children ages two to five, fans of the show range in age from the preschool population to those in the geriatric population, as children, along with their parents and grandparents (and even older siblings, whether they admit it or not), have become fans of the show over the years.
It’s not clear when this trend became so apparent to the show’s creators, and it’s not clear whether the show has intentionally morphed into one that is clearly designed to be palatable to both young viewers and their loved ones, but several, if not many of the episodes certainly give parents and grandparents all the feels.
Don’t believe me? Try watching the episode titled “Sleepytime,” which happened to make it on the Top 5 Bluey Episodes List as chosen by fans–and not cry.
Possible Reasons for the Wide Appeal of ‘Bluey’
But Bluey fans aren’t limited even to children and their parents and grandchildren. By their own admission, many fans of the adorable children’s show have no children as of yet–or they have children who are in high school or older.
And while very few, if any, would take issue with such a phenomenon, it doesn’t warrant the question: What is it about Bluey that creates such a mass appeal that transcends age barriers, as well as the barrier of having or not having children?
Bluey director Rich Jeffery says the show was meant to be watched together–young children and their loved ones.
“It was always the intention–to make it a co-viewing show,” Jeffery explained. “Because it’s not just kids, it’s parenting, and so to include story and jokes in there for the parents is part of the success of Bluey, I’d say. There’s been many attributes, but that’s definitely one of the key ones because it gets the whole family watching.”
Composer Joff Bush told ABC News that the music in each episode of Bluey is created differently as well, explaining that the music in the show isn’t necessarily created for children.
“There are only two things I can think of which are probably from a music perspective where we actually consider that it even is a children’s show,” Bush said. “Those are: is it too scary and is it too ambiguous? Those are the two things that we consider. But other than that, we treat it like any other story–like an adult story or a children’s story.”
Director Rich Jeffery agrees and notes that the production team goes over every facet of a new episode in painstaking detail.
“We really pushed for good animation because I think a lot of shows are made where they think it doesn’t matter: ‘It’s just a kids show. It doesn’t need to be amazing animation; it’ll sell anyway’,” Jeffrey explained, “and it kind of does, but I think when you go to great lengths to put effort into certain areas and to push the quality, people do notice it, and I find that very rewarding.”
Jeffery continued, saying, “And people comment on the animation as beautiful. Even little art direction things like the long grass underneath the trampoline–just little touches that people pick up on. They say, ‘Oh my goodness, they even did long grass under the trampoline,’ and when someone notices that, it’s like, yeah, it is worth it.”
A Shock, Even to the Show’s Creators
Jeffery says the production team never could have imagined how successful the show would be, but he points out that one of the animators in Bluey might have had an idea.
“I remember Chris, one of our animators, saying, ‘Rich, I think this is gonna go bananas,'” Jeffery said. “This is before even Season One went out, and he goes, ‘This is gonna go through the roof. It’s gonna go bananas, I can just feel it.’ And it has.”
The third season of Bluey dropped in early 2023, as did a new album titled “Bluey: Dance Mode,” which serves as a compilation of the first three seasons of the hit children’s program with songs originally composed by Joff Bush. There’s even a podcast just for parents, called Behind Bluey.
And it seems that even the show’s creators are wondering what fans are wondering: Hey, Bluey, why so popular?
The Show’s Creators Say the Popularity of ‘Bluey’ Comes Down to This
“One of the things I’ve really noticed recently is everyone’s going, ‘Wait, how did you make this?'” Bush said. And now we’re all looking back at what [we did] five years ago. What are the ingredients of this special sauce we’ve got here?'”
And Bush seems to have an answer: “Well, it’s just such a combination of factors,” he said. “Obviously, the creator, writer, and series director Joe Brumm [is] the chef. [But] what are all these ingredients? And how did they all work?”
Director Rich Jeffery says the Behind Bluey podcast will ultimately shed light on how everything comes together at the studios to produce Bluey, the award-winning children’s show whose fandom knows no limits.
“It’s also for budding animation people, people in the industry, especially people starting out,” Jeffery said. “We did talk a lot on the podcast, actually, about how we made the episodes, the technical challenges, and how we approach certain episodes. And I think that’ll be interesting for people who are starting out in animation or people who have been in animation for a long time. It will also be of interest to people who don’t work in animation. They’ll get an insight into what goes on and the studio environment.”
Jeffery says producing Bluey is no small job, despite the fact that most episodes are only seven minutes long without the credits rolling.
“It’s huge,” he explains. “It’s a huge production. Nearly 50 people in-house delivering weekly. Once that production train’s running, it doesn’t stop. It just keeps going.”
So, what exactly gives Bluey its mass appeal across various age ranges? And what about the show gives it its undeniable staying power? Well, if the show’s creators know what they’re talking about–and they sure seem to–it’s not just one thing about the show, but rather, a combination of all the wonderful things that are put into every episode of the children’s (and others not in the children’s demographic) program.
Bluey fans–and those who have yet to discover Bluey fandom and join the masses–can watch episodes of Bluey on Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and the Disney+ streaming platform.