With 150 Bluey episodes now available on ABC iView for those in Australia and slightly fewer available on Disney+ for those in other, less Blueified countries, it can be hard to know where to start with this much-loved cartoon about a little blue heeler dog and her family – and then where to start again, and again, and again. Here are my top 10 favourites:
A scene from Bluey’s Duck Cake episode.Photograph by ABC TV
10. Duck Cake
It’s never specified that the cake in question is being made from the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book – but let’s be honest, it is. And this episode isn’t really about Bluey and her dad Bandit making her little sister Bingo’s birthday cake; it’s about doing things that aren’t fun because they have, in Bluey lingo, gotta be done.
As Bluey learns the satisfaction that comes with completing tasks, parents will experience the horrified thrill of recognition over the bits of Lego strewn about the Heeler lounge room – a moment of valuable relatabilty in a house that’s otherwise far nicer than most of us will ever see.
It’s also thoughtfully provided a generation of frustrated parents with a perfect ersatz swear when things get too difficult: “Oh, duck cake!”You can do it six to seven times with your children.
A still from Bluey’s Rain episode.Photograph by ABC TV
Rain features Bluey trying stop a stream water from running down her front. The sound design is stunning and there is very little dialogue. Animation of the series. It’s incredibly simple, but powerfully evocative: not only for how it captures those dark daytime storms familiar to anyone who’s spent any time in Queensland, but also in the way that Bluey’s mum Chilli gradually abandons her attempts to stay dry and embraces playing with her daughter. If you want a single episode that sums up the overarching philosophy of Bluey, it’s hard to think of a better example.
8. Dance Mode
Parents should be wary of Bluey episodes as they set a new standard in what children can expect in their lives. Seriously, how much are the episode Markets’ tooth fairy rates? Five dollars per lost tooth? Is it possible to keep physical paper money in your home these days?
Anyway, Dance Mode goes one step further, by conditioning children to expect their parents to dance in public on demand – which both Chilli and Bandit do with gusto, if not exactly willing enthusiasm. This episode about saying yes even though we really want it to involves a lot of public down-getting along its triumphant finish. It also contains a busker who isn’t playing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, another refreshing break from reality.
A still from the Camping episode.Photograph by ABC TV
Bluey meets visiting French-speaking Jean-Luc while on a family camping trip and the language barrier doesn’t stop them developing a firm friendship until he abruptly leaves without being able to tell her that he’s leaving and no I’m not crying, you’re crying.
It’s a simple and beautiful lesson about embracing moments of joy as and when they arrive in our lives, even though – spoiler – teen Bluey and teen Jean-Luc meet again years later and he now speaks English and oh god why can’t all loves be this perfect and pure?
6. Pass the Parcel
This is the latest episode With the fury of a billion furious parents, they lit up the socialsWho didn’t appreciate their having them? kids party traditions critiqued. The Heelers’ next door neighbour Pat the Dog, AKA Lucky’s dad, doesn’t hold with this everyone-gets-a-prize business, calling for a Pass the parcel game that adheres to oldSchool rules: One big prize in each layer, instead of one.
Chaos is inevitable. Pat says that Australia can learn from its mistakes and move on. “a nation of squibs”. The ending seems to grossly underestimate the enthusiasm of children who aren’t getting it. toys, it does involve Pat enraptured by an absolutely killer bit of 80s AOR rock, complete with bitchin’ guitarmonies. GUITARMONIES!
Scene from Stumpfest.Photograph by ABC TV
Chilli (the brilliant Myf Wilsonhurst, whose illustrious work can be pictured here), and Aunt Trixie (“Chili and Aunt Trixie”). “Go and destroy the planet somewhere else!”This episode has the best episode and line delivery of any episode. Bandit, Uncle Stripe and Pat then enjoy drinks while digging up stumps in their yard. This thrilling display of masculinity is not remotely undercut by Bluey, Bingo and Muffin giving the three men makeovers as a condition of letting them pull up a stump they’re using as a beauty parlour.
This episode is especially glorious for the way it captures the way in which men interact with one another: mainly through paying one another out in between some unexpectedly real conversations (at one point, as Bandit strains over a crowbar, you overhear Stripe reassuring Pat over something he’s going through). Bluey listens to Chilli explain to Bluey that this is how grownups play. Every father should go out with his buddies and get an axe and start screaming. “STUMPFEST!”
4. The Creek
Bandit takes Mackenzie with him to the park with the girls in an episode that captures a very special moment in Australian childhood. kids get bored he decides that it’s time to headInstead, go down to the stream. After overcoming her fear of the sticky, grubby outdoors, Bluey discovers the beauty in the bush.
As the kids, discover the joys that come with spending time in the outdoors. I heard the echos of my father’s warnings to the girls about dropbears when Bandit warned them: “I’m joking. But seriously, watch out for snakes.”
FlatpackPhotograph by ABC TV
Chilli, Bandit, and their outdoor swing-seat were made in the Ikea style. The girls play with the packaging, and then recreate the whole development process of their lives. It’s the kind of thing no other show would think of doing.
It’s impossible to watch this episode and not see it as creator-writer Joe Brumm’s spiritual-scientific manifesto: Bluey and Bingo start as mother and baby fish and then proceed through reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals and even cavedogs until finally an all-grown-up Bingo takes the now elderly Bluey to explore space.
Extra points for the best meta show. Bandit laughs at the illustrated instructions, Ikea-style. “I’m not taking advice from a cartoon dog.” Harsh, Bandit.
From the Baby Race Photograph: ABC/YouTube
2. Baby Race
AKA The One with Baby Bluey. Chilli recalls her initial parent anxiety when Bluey, infant Bluey, lags behind other children. Chilli and her mother determined to get Bluey moving. From a condescending paediatrician dismissing Chilli’s concerns, down to Bandit’s mum deciding to put oil on Bluey’s knees to force her to walk (Bandit: “This isn’t legal any more!”This episode is both funny and wise.
But the moment where an older, more experienced mother (voiced by Leigh Sales, no less) reassures Chilli with the one lesson she’s learned from having “eight – no, nine!” kids is that all mums just need to hear that they’re actually doing great, is another of the series’ big waterworks moments.
From Sleepytime Photograph: ABC/YouTube
Bluey will be used by humankind to determine if someone has become a replicant in the future. If you’re not struggling to suppress choking sobs by the time Bingo tells the Sun that she has to go now because she’s a big girl, then we’ll deploy the Blade Runners.
This is a thoughtful and beautiful meditation on our family’s people. Floppy, a rabbit toy, and Bingo (a dreaming Bingo), drift through the solar systems while Bandit, Chilli and Chilli remain in a nightmare.
It is beautiful, in addition to everything else. Jupiter is a fluid, swirling world interwoven with the sleeping girls who merrily kick Bandit in their stomachs. Floppy is called to join Saturn’s swirling rings of bunnies. The Sun is Chilli’s warm and comforting voice, telling her daughter that she is always there for her and loves her. It’s an entire scope of the cosmos, poured into one typical night. This episode is brilliant and may save humanity.