‘In a way it’s escapism’: ‘Bluey’ Offers College Students a Second Chance at Childhood

Since the show was added to Disney+ in 2020, “Bluey” has become a household name. The show regularly airs on Disney Channel and Disney Junior, is consistently trending on Disney+ and full episodes even make the rounds on TikTok.

Imagine a world full of brightly painted houses and lush, colorful landscapes. Where skies are always blue, problems are solved within seven minutes and every day is a new adventure.

That’s “Bluey” — in a nutshell.

The popular Australian children’s show revolves around titular character Bluey, her younger sister Bingo, her mom Chilli and her dad Bandit. The family of Red and Blue Heelers use their imaginations while learning important life lessons in each episode.

Since the show was added to Disney+ in 2020, “Bluey” has become a household name. The show regularly airs on Disney Channel and Disney Junior, is consistently trending on Disney+ and full episodes even make the rounds on TikTok.

That’s how first-year Maggie Kirwin came across the show.

“It would pop up on those videos where there would be a game on the bottom and then it would be the clips of the show,” Kirwin said, describing videos on TikTok which appeal to viewers’ shortened attention spans by including multiple video frames, according to SocialMediaPsychology.eu. “I found out it was on Disney+, so my sister and I over winter break were like, ‘Well we should check it out.’”

Most childless social media users discover “Bluey” through TikTok, as the seven-minute episodes come in under the app’s 10-minute time limit on videos, according to the Washington Post. It’s easy for the clips to hit a wide audience on TikTok, but the people who come back for more are the ones who find relatability in the show.

Kirwin, who typically watches “Bluey” with her older sister, said the show’s reflection of their relationship was what led her to connect to the show on a deeper level.

“We saw our experience as a little bit similar to the two main characters of this show,” the environmental studies major said, likening herself to Bingo and her sister to Bluey.

First-year Anna Happ, also a younger sister, echoed this sentiment.

“It’s definitely nice to see that little sister representation,” Happ, 19, said. “It’s just neat to see them go through a lot of the same things that I did in my sibling relationship, but they work it out a lot more emotionally and intelligently.”

The psychology major said she admires the way the show promotes adults using their imaginations to engage with their children on a deeper level.

“The adults in the show kind of play into the creative world of a child,” Happ said. “I think not just children but a lot of adults can benefit from a few episodes.”

Sophomore Heden Abdulahi said she appreciates the way the show helps adults as well as children learn to navigate the world around them and process strong emotions.

“There was this one episode where Bluey found a dead bird, and then she learned how to process death and how life works by reenacting the death of the bird,” Abdulahi said. “The fact that it’s in a cute kid’s show makes it really easy to consume.”

The show tackles other sensitive topics, like tensions between family members, premature births and feeling like an inadequate parent. This is what Abdulahi, who watches the show with her three younger sisters, said she loves about “Bluey” — it’s deeper than most children’s shows.

“It’s not just a bunch of colors or learning sequences,” Abdulahi said. “It’s just a family going through their life and learning things through play. It’s really real.”

The balance between the real-life complexities of the show and its simple, wholesome nature is what some students said draws them to “Bluey.” The show recognizes that life doesn’t always go as planned, but things can always get better.

Professor Ayesha Abouelazm, who teaches courses on video production and narratives within film, said she finds tremendous value in watching children’s shows and tapping into that childlike mindset.

“There’s that kind of free thinking that we connect with,” Abouelazm said. “Folks feel that kind of childish energy where they didn’t overthink things and there was hope.”

Happ said the show’s positive nature appeals to college students finding their way into the adult world.

“With my first semester of college and being thrown into independent life, it was really nice to have a wholesome, more for-my-inner-child kind of show to watch,” Happ said.

Kirwin said her inner child has also found solace in the show.

“In a way it’s escapism, because it’s a kid’s cartoon,” Kirwin said. “It brings you back to that childlike innocence.”

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Communication said media and childhood nostalgia are linked, with TV shows, movies and other types of media being used as coping mechanisms.

“It’s human nature to feel a closeness to something that brings you back to your innocence,” Abouelazm said.

Sophomore Jadyn Craig said she regularly watches shows she grew up with — like “Phineas and Ferb” and “Pokemon” — and agrees that there’s comfort in watching a children’s show as an adult.

“I can almost appreciate it more just because I am older,” Craig, 19, said. “I think a lot of it is just the simplicity of it.”

“Bluey” looks at the world through a child’s eyes, romanticizing little things like trips to the home improvement store, bedtime routines and even car rides to the dump. Craig said she thinks a lot can be learned from the show — and from kids in general — about enjoying the little things in life.

“They’re just focused on making friends and having fun together and going on little adventures,” Craig said. “Everything else that society thinks is such a big deal takes a backburner with kids, because why would that matter when you could just have fun?”

Seasons one and two of “Bluey” are available to stream on Disney+. Season three will be available to stream Aug. 10.

Caroline Bell

Caroline Bell