Episode 811: Stickbird is Goose

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle “Bluey,” that wildly sophisticated adult cartoon masquerading as a kids show about talking dogs.

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Pete Fenzel and Mark Lee overthink Bluey, the Australian kids’ show that squeezes every minute of its six-minute episodes for high-end emotional relationship coaching. They dissect how the show runs parallel narratives for both children and adults, its vast gap in raison dêtre with Paw Patrol and kinship with Daniel Tiger, the challenge of parents and children learn from each other, and the hidden semantics of its classical music underscoring.

Bluey Episodes Discussed:

  • Season 2, Episode 24: Flat Pack
  • Season 2, Episode 26: Sleepytime
  • Season 2, Episode 50: Baby Race
  • Season 3, Episode 41: Stickbird

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One Comment on “Episode 811: Stickbird is Goose”

  1. l33tminion Member #

    Bluey really stands out to me as a fascinating show. It’s a show _about parenting_ far more so than even other kids’ shows that are about family life, and a show _for parents_ far more so than other kids’ shows that have something in there for adults. The compare/contrast to Daniel Tiger is very apt, since that’s also very focused on parenting / family life. (Even more so than Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood, its predecessor.) But it has a single perspective character who’s a child and a transparent fourth wall and it ends up with this very simple narrative structure compared with some of the stuff Bluey gets away with in episodes like “Baby Race”.

    Also, there are places where the show highlights the problems of parenting and is didactic towards parents in a way that strikes me as really unusual in a kid’s show. For example, there are some episodes where the parents are just dragging themselves though playing with the kids (“Whale Watching”, where it’s implied that they’re exhausted (and maybe hung over (?!)) from a New Years party, and “Mount Mumandad”, where they’re tired after a trip to the amusement park). The message that there’s value in pushing yourself through playing with your kids even when you’re not feeling it is definitely directed at parents!

    If I had to identify one main theme of the show it would be about the centrality of imaginative play to childhood, and the centrality of participating in that play (sometimes directly, sometimes more indirectly or abstractly) to parenting. By the show’s own frame, kids don’t need to be told that imaginative play is important, so it’s a kids’ show where the central message of the show is for parents.

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