I’ve heard people say that Bluey, the beloved-among-Millennial-parent Australian animated kids show about a family of blue heeler dogs, is actually “an adult show that kids happen to like”—a tongue-in-cheek reaction to one of the best kids’ shows made in recent years. But I’m not sure that’s totally right. It’s made for kids; it’s just that there are some Bluey episodes that understand parents and kids in a way that seems unique.
Bluey’s parents, Bandit and Chilli, feel real. They make mistakes. They get frustrated with—and even bored of—their kids. Those kids, meanwhile, (like ours) busy themselves making up games on the fly with rules that are constantly changing. Bluey and Bingo engage deeply in a world of their own imagining that is messy, often full of disagreements, and genuinely hilarious. Of the 130 or so Bluey episodes in existence, the following 15 truly capture parenthood at its most ridiculous and rewarding.
Season 2, Episode 10: Rug Island
Relatable parenting moment: Our kids make us young again.
When Bandit has to go to work, the kids instead convince him to stay and play on “rug island,” an island they’ve made in the backyard out of a rug, where everything is made of different color markers. At first, Bandit doesn’t get the game. He tries to make the rules. But once he follows Bingo and Bluey’s rules and engages fully with the world they’ve created (even doing so in front of another grown-up), he’s able to play uninhibited, like a kid again.
Season 1, Episode 43: Camping
Relatable parenting moment: It’s magical.
In the fan-favorite “Camping,” Bluey and her family are camping in the bush, or what Australians call the wilderness (don’t worry, after a few Bluey episodes, you will be well-versed in Australian. I personally can’t stop calling our garbage cans the “wheelie bins”) when Bluey meets another kid. He only speaks French, and Bluey only speaks English, but they quickly realize they don’t need a common language and fall into a natural rhythm of play.
One day Bluey goes to his tent site and finds his family has left. Sad, she asks her mom if she thinks she’ll ever see him again. Chilli says she doesn’t know but that the world is a magical place. They flip off their flashlights and look at the night sky, full of stars, and it does feel magical. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s one of the best in the series.
Season 1, Episode 34: The Dump
Relatable parenting moment: We make mistakes.
When Bluey’s dad Bandit takes her to the recycling dump, Bluey discovers he’s throwing out a bunch of her old drawings. At first, she’s upset. And her dad is upset, too. He feels like he made a mistake—not so much in throwing away the art, but in letting Bluey see that he was throwing away the art.
In another kids’ show, he may have apologized, explained the benefits of recycling, and asked Bluey to pick some of her favorite drawings to save. But this isn’t a typical kids’ show. Instead, Bandit explains that Bluey draws a lot of things and they aren’t all meaningful to him. But if she throws these away, they can become paper for other kids to draw more things on, which convinces her to let them go.
Season 1, Episode 14: Takeaway
Relatable parenting moment: Your kids are only young once.
This Bluey episode is for the parents. Bandit takes the kids to pick up takeout, a simple task that should take five minutes max. And yet, as the episode understands, tasks that should take five minutes are never done when kids are involved.
After a series of hilarious mishaps, each one more frustrating for the last for Bandit, who just wants some spring rolls, the kids end up flooding the sidewalk, peeing in a bush, ruining all the menus, and knocking over the food. In true Bluey fashion, Bandit considers getting angry, but after reading a fortune cookie, decides instead to just roll with it and let the kids play in the water. After all, you’re only young once.
Season 1, Episode 3: Keepy Uppy
Relatable parenting moment: Sometimes we go too far.
A classic and one of my toddler’s favorites—mostly because it taught him the game where you keep a balloon from hitting the ground which we now play ad nauseam. It has one of the best lines in the series. When Bandit makes the game too intense and ends up accidentally popping the balloon, he says, “Did I make it a little too fun? It’s a hard one to get right.” It is a hard one to get right. The whole parenting thing in general, I mean. And I think he does, too.
Season 2, Episode 41: Octopus
Relatable parenting moment: We aren’t always the best at everything.
“Octopus” is a great antidote for when you’ve watched a ton of episodes and feel like the worst parent in the world because you could never play pretend that well. Bluey’s friend Chloe comes over and plays a game called Octopus with Bandit and Bluey. When Chloe tries to recreate the game with her dad, she finds that he can’t do it the same as Bandit. After a frustrating few tries, she tells her dad he’s “not as fun as Bluey’s dad,” and we see how hard he takes it.
But rather than trying to recreate the game exactly, Chloe and her dad realize they need to make up their own rules that suit their family. It’s a sweet episode, and I honestly wonder if the creators didn’t throw it in there just to remind parents: Hey, this is just TV. You’re doing ok.
Season 1, Episode 39: Copycat
Relatable parenting moment: Our kids’ capacity for love can surprise us.
It isn’t easy to deal with death in a kids’ show. When Bluey finds a hurt bird, she and Bandit take it to the vet, where it ends up dying. Back at home, Bluey, distraught, suggests they play a game back where they reenact the situation. Her mom assumes Bluey wants a different outcome—she pretends the bird in the game lives this time—but Bluey says no. She doesn’t want to fix the situation, just to process it. She wants the bird to die in the game, too.
It’s an interesting thing for a kids’ show to do, but something about the misunderstanding on Chilli’s part and Bluey’s impulse to recreate a sad event seems incredibly realistic, and it’s what makes this episode stand out.
Season 2, Episode 22: Bus
Relatable parenting moment: Playing with kids can be fun and frustrating at the same time.
“Bus” is one of my favorite episodes because it shows the whole family playing pretend together in a way only the Heelers can. The family feels like a seasoned improv troupe: Their “yes and” skills are impeccable. Realistically, it’s impossible to play this well with small children. But it’s fun to watch Bandit and Chilli navigate it with fun, creativity, and humor—the way you would if you were a slightly better parent with a whole lot more time on your hands (to play with your kids more and to take classes at your local improv theater).
Season 1, Episode 8: Fruit Bat
Relatable parenting moment: Being a parent means making sacrifices for our kids.
This wins the award for Most Beautiful Bluey Episode. When Bluey says she wants to be a fruit bat instead of a kid so that she can do whatever she wants, her parents suggest she dreams about being a fruit bat instead. She does, and we see her soaring over her neighborhood only to spot her dad, who is playing football with his friends, something he gave up when he had kids. She, of course, realizes that everyone—fruit bats, kids, and parents—can’t always do whatever they want.
Season 2, Episode 9: Bingo
Relatable parenting moment: Our kids have different strengths.
This is my two-year-old’s favorite episode, so I have to include it, mostly because I’ve seen it roughly 200 times (this morning). When Bluey is out for the day, her little sister, Bingo, has to play by herself without her, which proves challenging. It’s a fun role reversal where Bingo gets to be in charge for once. But according to my son, the best part is when Bingo leaves the fridge open for too long, it beeps at her, and she declares: “The fridge doesn’t like me.” He laughs every time.
Season 1, Episode 22: The Pool
Relatable parenting moment: We mess up. A lot.
This one goes out to all the parents who can’t remember to bring sunscreen to save their lives. When Bandit forgets to bring sunscreen (and everything else) to the pool, the kids are limited to playing in the shade, which gets progressively smaller as the day goes on. Relatable.
Season 2, Episode 27: Grandad
Relatable parenting moment: Sometimes you need your parents, too.
In this episode, Bluey, Bingo, and Chilli visit Chilli’s dad, who is recovering from heartworms (a clever play on a heart attack but for dogs.) Chilli wants him to rest, but he wants to run around with the kids. They share one of the best moments in the series when Chilli asks if he remembers playing with her like that a long time ago, and he says, “It wasn’t a long time ago; it was yesterday.” The show reminds us that your kids are always your kids, and your parents are always your parents, no matter how old.
Season 2, Episode 39: Double Babysitter
Relatable parenting moment: Your mistakes can be someone else’s win.
The Heelers accidentally forget to cancel their babysitter when Bandit’s brother agrees to babysit, so both parties show up, and the kids ask if they can both stay. The babysitter and their uncle are attracted to each other, and the kids fuel the fire with how they include them in their games. It’s a perfect setup for a meet-cute and should be a full-length rom-com immediately. The best part? In the next episode, they Facetime from their honeymoon.
Season 2, Episode 44: Duck Cake
Relatable parenting moment: Failure doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a good job.
A TV show about a cartoon dog making a cake shaped like a duck should not make you cry, but here we are. Bandit is trying to make a duck cake for Bingo’s birthday while also trying to get Bluey to clean up her toys. Bluey refuses, the cake is a disaster, and when it all falls apart (literally), we see Bandit lose it for the first time. He sits down on the kitchen floor and cries, something that made me cry, because how many times has one small thing set me totally over the edge as a parent? A million. But then Bluey sees how upset he is and cleans up the cake—and all of her toys.
Season 2, Episode 26: Sleepytime
Relatable parenting moment: You are the center of your kids’ universe.
This is my favorite Bluey episode. Bingo tells her mom that she wants to sleep in her bed all night like a big girl. She falls asleep and begins dreaming about flying from planet to planet, and we see that in real life, she’s sleepwalking, slapping her dad while playing with the gas on Jupiter, losing her stuffed bunny on the rings of Saturn, lost and cold while sleeping alone in bed on Pluto, until finally she sees the sun and is pulled into its rays. The sun, of course, is her mother holding her while she sleeps.
This episode showcases what Bluey does differently than in other kids’ shows. So many times when there could be a lesson, they replace it with a simple idea instead: Being a family is mostly about sharing your warmth.