‘Bluey’ is teaching me to be a better Catholic parent

By Katie Prejean McGrady | OSV News

During the COVID pandemic, my husband and I took turns watching “Cocomelon” with the then two-year-old. A brightly colored show with apparently animatronic humans singing not quite catchy (nor easily forgettable) songs, “Cocomelon” was standard viewing in the first few weeks of the lockdown.

Neither of us could stand it. The colors. The music. The weird looking people who didn’t move in quite the right way, even for cartoons. While working from home, we let our toddler watch way too much of a show that we absolutely abhorred.

And then one morning I walked into the living room and my husband was pressing play on Episode One of an Australian kid’s show featuring talking dogs.

Three episodes in, we were hooked.

Katie Prejean McGrady and family showing off their “Bluey” gear. (OSV News photo/courtesy Katie Prejean McGrady)

More than two years later, this “Bluey” has become a fixture in our house — so much so that we’ve got matching family T-shirts and have “Bluey”-themed birthday parties.

The show is the invention of Joe Brumm, an Australian dad raising two little girls who wanted to create something that was equally enjoyable for parents and kids. He’s certainly succeeded; these quick little episodes — only seven-minutes long, with over 125 currently available on Disney+ — are funny, heartwarming and entertaining. It is utterly captivating to watch Bandit Heeler and his wife, Chilli, parent and live life with their little girls, Bluey and Bingo. From play-time (trying to keep a balloon up in the air) to antics in the park to the frequent appearance of Janet and Rita (Bluey and Bingo’s “grannie” characters who get into all sorts of trouble), these episodes pack a punch.

Details of the Heeler family are introduced gradually. Bandit works in archeology; Chilli works in airport security. Bingo and Bluey go to a Montessori style pre-school and get into hijinx as they play with their friends. They often visit Nana and Uncle Stripe and his family, including their wild little cousin Muffin, but the heart of the show is the Heeler home, a split-level house that includes a giant backyard, a gorgeous veranda and a playroom with a green kiwi rug I’ve already searched for on Etsy.

Here, Bluey and Bingo live an entirely ordinary yet remarkably entertaining life. They’re sisters, so sometimes they disagree and don’t share well, but most of the time, they’re having fun roping their parents into wild scenarios.

This is where the show is absolute perfection. It presents a very realistic snapshot (even for Australian dogs) of family living life — playing games, sharing meals, going to and from work and school — wherein both kids and adult viewers are reminded of what’s most essential in life: being together.

There’s an episode in Season 1, “Grannies,” where Bluey, age 6, insists to the almost 4-year-old Bingo that “grannies can’t floss.” Bingo, upset at the idea that grannies can do the dance, refuses to keep playing the game, which sends Bluey running off to whine to whine to her mom about Bingo being a bad sport. As Chilli and Bandit are folding laundry and changing sheets on the beds — doing the ordinary work of the family home — Chilli asks Bluey, “Do you want to be right, or do you want her to play with you?”

In that instant, Bluey has a revelation. She can continue to be bossy, telling Bingo she’s wrong, or she can Facetime her Nana and teach her how to do the floss dance. Then Bingo and Bluey can both be right!

That’s what she does, and in the final 2 minutes of the episode, Bluey and Bingo reconcile, and their grannies game carries on — with a valuable lesson about sisterhood and family learned. In the final scene of the episode, Mom and Dad Heeler sit on their veranda, smiling as they watch their daughters at play.

“Bluey” is really the only children’s show I’ve ever watched on my own, the one where I have seen and recognized my own family — a mom and dad, with their young kids, navigating how to say yes, when to say no and what to do in even the most ordinary of circumstances to make the best memories.

As a Catholic parent, this is precisely the encouragement I need in the everyday grind of raising little kids — trying to teach them virtue, helping them understand right from wrong and placing at the center of our home an attitude of loving and serving one another (the very mandate given to us by Christ). “Bluey” is not a “Catholic” kid’s show — we don’t see the family pray or go to church or memorize the catechism. Such kids’ shows do exist, and we occasionally watch them (though frankly, they’re not very good), but “Bluey” is a “catholic” show in that it showcases universal themes of family, love, service and the struggles and joys of family life.

Catholic parents try to encourage their children to love the church, something best taught by living virtuously and loving without reservation. We teach the Catholic material, stay committed to our devotional prayers and figure out liturgical living activities that teach our kids the rhythms of the church.

You won’t see that in “Bluey.” It won’t show us the life of the church in terms of the sacraments or attending Mass. Yet it gives us a beautiful snapshot of a domestic church — a family filled with moments of sorrow and joy, moments of choosing to give and sacrifice; moments that remind me to give of myself, completely, for the joy and delight of my family. This cartoon challenges me to find grace in the ordinary, to notice goodness in even the hard moments and to say “yes” to loving and serving the most important people in my life.

If you’re looking for endearing stories about family and the enduring truth that being present to one another is the best way we can love one another (and is also a remarkable expression of our Catholic faith) do check out “Bluey,” and give us McGradys a call. We’ll be there, with magic asparagus, balloons for Keepy Uppy, a good toy for Pass the Parcel, and the desire to go into full-blown dance mode.
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Katie Prejean McGrady is an award-winning author, sought-after speaker and host of the daily radio program “The Katie McGrady Show” on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. She lives with her husband, Tommy, and daughters, Rose and Clare, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and she wrote this article while watching “Bluey.” A version of this piece ran in Our Sunday Editor.


Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

1 comment

We love Bluey too! It actually shows engaged parents and parents that aren’t made to look like idiots like many of our American cartoons. And they put lessons in without them seeming like lessons.

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