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Bluey: The best in the golden era of content for kids - BlackBall Media

If you don’t have kids, you are missing out on something more than merely procreating, or bleeding money, or any of the other challenges and triumphs that come with being a parent.

Namely, we are living in a golden era of kid movies and TV, and it isn’t even close.

Since they were really little, I have probably been guilty of allowing my kids to watch way too much kids content. The one thing I have going for me is that I refuse to let them hibernate on their own with tablets or phones. In our house, we watch everything as a family.

Everything. Which now makes me a resident expert on the ridiculously high quality in children’s content, comparable to hip hop in the 90s, or what HBO did to television after The Sopranos changed TV forever. It isn’t just the incalculable increase in the quality of animation, although that is as stark as the change from silent moves to talkies. The other day I showed my son and daughter some of the kids shows I used to watch as an ankle-biter – from The Mighty Hercules to the Great Space Coaster – and it was unanimous; Daddy’s favourite TV shows when he was a kid were boring and funny looking.

They’re not wrong. in fact, the only show they like from when I was growing up is The Simpsons. And yes, I wear that like a badge of honour. I know, I know…a lot of parents believe The Simpsons are wildly inappropriate for a 9 and 7 year old (they were 5 and 3 when they started watching it), but they are also allowed to curse Jesus’ name in my house, and repeat the swear word that Daddy said in the moment, but only once (my son pushes his luck on this one, often skipping around the house saying “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck” when Daddy is guilty of letting an F bomb slip).

So which movies and shows are making this 47 year old sing the praises of those responsible for all of this great content? The list is too big to really do a deep dive, so I’ll begin with the movies that made our house repeat watchers.

Moana – One of the greatest original stories ever, featuring a heroine, The Rock, and an adventure to save the world from a lava monster who lost her heart. And for once, I liked the singing.

Coco – Another movie where the singing didn’t bother me (I tend to hate most musicals), this story is about a little boy who was banned from playing music, and found himself in the Land of the Dead, despite not being dead, and the only way back is to receive a blessing from one of his dead relatives. The last scene, where Coco sings the song her father wrote for her, still brings tears to my eyes.

Any movie with a Minion in it. No seriously…all of them. My daughter can speak Minion, and does Minion yoga. What else is there?

Then you have the delightful animal-crooning Sing and Sing 2, the coming-of-age-friendly How To Train Your Dragon series, The Secret Life of Pets 1 and 2, anything with Lego in it (my kids laugh hysterically every time I point out that the scene we just watched is impossible without having any thumbs), The Incredibles 1 and 2 (my kids think the first Incredibles is a classic, which makes perfect sense even though it infuriates me), the emotional awareness adventure of Inside Out, the scientific and emotional experience of Elemental, the now-retro vibe of Wreck It Ralph 1 and 2, the when-magic-meets-just-be-yourself vibe of Encanto, the Bill Burr-voiced-so-it’s-dope-for-adults flick Leo, the psychadaelic-yet-aimed-at-kids reboot of Spiderman, Inside the Universe, the heartwarming flick that everyone’s grandparent should watch with their grandkid, Up, the retelling of the classic Little Prince, and the list goes on and on and on.

Those films represent a decade of instant classics in the kids film genre, and that’s barely a short list. The truth is, and we thought we had it made when we were kids, the past decade has produced some of the most important and creatively superior films ever. The writing is exceptional, and balances the needs of the kids with the wants of adults to a tee, meaning it’s watchable for everyone in the family.

I’m less inclined to watch children’s series, but one stands out above all others; Bluey.

My kids have had to endure the separation of Mommy and Daddy, spending 50% of their time with each of us after living their entire lives with both their parents under the same roof. As expected, my kids have gone through some tough emotional moments, confused why we can’t all be together, acting silly, laughing, playing and being a family.

Bluey shows what a family looks like when it is together. The dynamic serves as an example of what a family could be, and sometimes reminds me of what my own family was sometimes like before the shit hit the fan. For an animated series, it does an amazing job creating cathartic moments, sometimes through a glance from one of the characters, or an innocent question from Bluey’s younger sister, Bingo, or the way Mum and Dad prioritize the magic of being a kid, and make it seem like the obvious choice is to dance, or adhere to the imagination of their daughters, or pretend they are frozen when the kids deem them so.

Episodes usually run about 8-9 minutes, but their latest episode, The Sign, ran 28 minutes, and it was probably the best half hour of kids television of all-time.

Bleuy’s family were preparing to move from the only home the kids ever knew. Mum was visibly sad, Bluey as well, and Bingo quite endearingly did not know that selling their home meant they would have to move out. The episode explores the emotional impacts of the changing family, and despite Bluey’s family remaining intact, both of my children told me afterwards that it reminded them of our own family.

The sophistication of the writing – in this case communicating a universal understanding of emotions and how they are affected through any type of familial challenges – was flawless. My daughter and I both had tears in our eyes. We were reminded of our own situation and the adjustments we had to make in order to feel ok. She put her head on my chest and said, “I wish all four of us lived together still.”

It nearly broke my heart.

My son, who is just as emotionally intelligent but less expressive, asked if we could watch it again just as it ended. I watched his face during the more poignant scenes, and he was honestly moved.

Real life endings are often not as ideal as on-screen endings, and the three of us bathed in our reality, quietly wondering what our lives would be like if we still lived in the same house, wishing for an ending where Mommy and Daddy loved each other again.

All this from an animated series geared towards small children.

Adults, ones with or without children, can get something out of Bluey. It has that rare ability to mirror all of our lives. It might reflect your own upbringing, your current family dynamic, or even what you wished for when imagining your ideal life.

Whoever you are, whatever your current home life is like, there is a kids show out there that can help your remember, or even reinforce, the life you used to have, or always wanted.