Monday, April 29, 2024

The BIG Problem with Bluey's “The Sign”

No, this is not clickbait. I am about to tear into everyone's favorite cartoon. 

The Plot

In the 20 minute Bluey episode The Sign Chili's best friend Aunt Frisky is getting ready to marry Bandit's brother Rad, a relationship we saw begin in the episode Double Babysitter. Meanwhile, Bandit and Chili are getting ready to sell their house and move to another city, following Bandit's opportunity for a higher paying job. Bluey of course is distressed by the idea of having to move away, and Chili isn't thrilled by the idea either. Bluey's teacher, Calypso, reads her a story about how everything will work out in the end and Bluey believes that means that they won't have to move if she can just find a way to stop it. She gets in her head that if she removes the "For Sale" sign in the front yard that the house will no longer be for sale and they won't have to move. 

Meanwhile Aunt Frisky and Rad get into a fight and Aunt Frisky decides to call off the wedding and runs away, leaving it up to Chili to pile Bluey, Bingo, Muffin and Socks into the car and chase after her. Since Aunt Frisky was going to remove the sign for the wedding Bluey believes that if the wedding is off that the sign will remain so she's doubly invested to find her and get the wedding back on. Needless to say Chili finds her best friend through a series of coincidences (Including a very illegal break of confidentiality from a cop) and the wedding is back on full of dozens of cameos from previous characters (We'll talk about that later) but Chili explains to Bluey that the house has already been sold and that taking down the sign wouldn't stop that. 

Later, just as the Heelers are pulling out of their driveway for the last time, Bandit gets a call telling him that the couple who bought their house has backed out, which as the audience we learn that it was due to the nonsense that happened during Chili and Aunt Frisky's chase. Bandit, knowing how much his family doesn't want to move, steps out of the car and pulls the sign out himself declaring that they are staying. 


My Issue

So why am I here complaining about all this? Bluey got her happy ending, the status quo has been restored, and all is as it should be, right? 

That's the issue. 

For years now children's entertainment has been challenging the idea that everything has a neat "happily ever after", moving more towards the idea that things happen that we may not like, even bad things, and teaching how to cope and understand those bad things. Bluey was no exception, even hitting a little harder than most other shows with some of its topics. The perfect example is the controversial and temporarily banned episode Onesie, where Chili's sister Brandy is subtly hinted that she wants children but for some reason can't have them. When Bluey finds out that Brandy wants something she can't have she states how unfair that is and is told that it's how life goes sometimes. At the end of the episode Brandy is still without children and is making steps to cope with this loss, including coming to visit her sister and her insane daughters, one of which turns into a cheetah and mauls her. 

During the wedding cameos in The Sign we see, without dialogue, Chili hug a very happy and very pregnant Brandy, meaning that whatever she had going on was fixed offscreen. That's the problem though: That one cameo undid the lesson and emotional investment we got from Onesie by saying that "Hey everything works out the way you want in the end!". Unfortunately not, in real life some people who want children can't have them and sometimes you have to move even if you don't want to, both of which were lessons that were completely lost in this episode. 

As a person who has dealt with similar issues both as a child and as an adult I find the entire "Everyone gets a happy ending" insulting. To me this isn't what Bluey is about and it isn't a lesson I want to be teaching children in a show that has done so well in teaching harsh life lessons in such a beautiful and understanding manner. 

A Deal's A Deal

I made a deal with another writer here, Spencer, that if I was going to rant about Bluey that I had to say something nice about it too. So here it is: 

The entire chase sequence with Chili and the girls is nothing short of comedy gold. Everyone shines as this stressful road trip is compounded by having four little ones along for the ride. They do as children often do: get in the way, cause more issues than necessary, and are in general not helpful, until they are. They are the ones who ask the questions, no guile in sight, that help them find Aunt Frisky in the end. Socks even spots Aunt Friskie's car while they're at a roadside bathroom (Good eye) and keeps the chase going. This is classic Bluey comedy and I was rolling when they were hot on the trail and Muffin needed to go to the bathroom stopping the chase in its tracks. 


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