By Ruth Fordyce
Psychologist, The Resilience Centre
The stories we tell, listen to, and enjoy together are so important. They reflect back to us a sense of who we are and our common humanity, but often also what we yearn for and who we hope to be. So often in our current age, these stories come to us in movies or TV shows.
There is a wonderful Australian made TV program that has shot to popularity, with many people taking to social media to gush about its wonderful writing, humour and oh so familiar Aussie references. A couple of months after launching in last October, it had become the top rating show on the ABC’s iView streaming platform.
It’s Bluey, a cartoon about a family of Blue Heeler dogs. Yes, it’s a children’s show screening on ABC Kids. But it is much, much more.
As a mum, I am delighted to have a program I will gladly watch with my kids. It is the first show our family has found in which we really feel our kind of Australian lifestyle and our experiences of parenting young children are reflected. We actually re-tell moments from the episodes which resonate with our own family life, usually involving a good giggle about how that is “so us”. If you’ve never seen Bluey, I highly recommend you pause reading at this moment, and go and watch an episode (if you want a starting point, ‘Takeaway’ is our favourite episode to date).
As a psychologist, I value not just the humour, but the significance of a program that conveys a vision of shared parenting more consistent with the realities of modern Australia. Bluey is receiving growing praise (see here for example) because the father character, Bandit, is extremely engaged with his two kids and is also depicted simply doing normal parenting activities like running errands with the kids in tow, and doing housework. I loved Lucy’s Battersby comment, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, about what a refreshing departure this is from the usual depiction of dads in children’s television as either absent, or more frequently, as bumbling and incompetent (for my generation, perhaps the standout example of this is Homer Simpson). I think this is powerful storytelling. It is clear that Bandit’s children adore him. What a wonderful way to affirm to a current generation of dads, trying to be more present and connected to their children, that their efforts are worthwhile.
I love that thousands of families are watching this show together, laughing and feeling affirmed in the mess and the joy of family life here and now in Australia. While so many parents are grateful to finally see a TV show in which a father genuinely shares the load, perhaps we should be even more excited that a generation of small children love watching it too. Perhaps to them, it will seem entirely normal that a dad in a TV show should be so involved in domestic life, and care so beautifully for his two kids.
Here’s to more stories like that.
Ruth Fordyce is a Registered Psychologist at The Resilience Centre in Sydney. Find out more about Ruth by clicking here.