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Is ‘Bluey’ diverse enough?

Although universally beloved, the show has been criticized for its lack of diversity and alleged ‘fat shaming’

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The Bluey balloon floats on Central Park West in New York City during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Bluey balloon floats on Central Park West in New York City during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 24, 2022.

Ted Shaffrey, Associated Press

Is the award-winning children’s show “Bluey,” which is about a family of Australian blue heeler dogs, suitably diverse?

The question was raised in an essay a few years ago by a writer who wondered, not if the show needed, say, more Alaskan huskies or Great Danes, but other types of types of diversity increasingly prized in the human world.

“Where are the disabled, queer, poor, gender diverse, dogs of colour and single-parent dog families in Bluey’s Brisbane? If they’re in the background, let them come forward,” wrote Beverley Wang on the website ABC Everyday in a piece entitled “I’ve learned a lot from Bluey, but can the show be more representative?

Although the piece was published in 2021, it has been circulating again because it was mentioned last week by conservative podcaster Matt Walsh, who said people are the left on trying to disparage the show that Walsh called “actively wholesome and enriching.”

In addition to Wang’s article, Walsh cited a study published last year that was critical of the dad on the show, and an episode earlier this year in which the dad stepped on a scale, groaned and said he needs to exercise. The episode, which was decried by some people as “fat-shaming,” was later edited to exclude that scene, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Like Walsh, Wang is a fan of the show, which features a mom and dad — Bandit and Chilli — and their daughters, 4-year-old Bingo and 6-year-old Bluey. Wang said the show has made her cry and she called it “tender, nuanced and joyful.”

But in 2021 she wrote, “We live in a world where the majority of main characters on children’s television are white; where there are more animals than people of color protagonists populating the pages of children’s books.”

Wang also said, “As a parent of colour, I am always conscious of the presence — or absence — of diverse representation in kids’ pop culture, what it means for children and the conversations we have around that. I sincerely believe you don’t have to be ‘Other’ to think about this too.”

“Bluey,” which has been made into a live-action show now touring the U.S., began streaming on Disney+ in 2019 and has been lauded for its modern but celebratory representation of the nuclear family, albeit with some Australian terminology.

“‘Bluey’ exudes and exemplifies the values of family and what it means to love, learn and support each other,” Zach Bloxham wrote earlier this year for Deseret.

“The dad of this dog family, named Bandit, isn’t the typically aloof dunce you often see personified in popular media. He’s all-in on being the best dad and husband he can be, mistakes and all. I know more dads like this than our entertainment overlords would ever care to admit. It’s about time good fatherhood and husbandry is rewarded with proper representation.”

And L.R. Encinas wrote of the show last year, “In ‘Bluey,’ families can see themselves in the minutiae of daily existence, while reaching for the idealized versions of who we want to be — our most creative, patient, joyful selves.”

Walsh, however, said on TikTok that the show has become a target of the “woke,” who say the show “cannot be normal, cannot be wholesome, and it can not encourage moral or physical improvement.”