Internationally acclaimed Australian children’s show Bluey is bringing adults to tears (again) for its portrayal of three new characters.
- Ludo Studio worked with Deaf Connect to authentically create Auslan interaction in Turtleboy
- Dougie is profoundly deaf and uses Auslan to communicate with his hearing mother.
- Viewers also praised the show for its sensitive depiction of fertility issues in Onesies.
Bluey, which is made by Brisbane-based Ludo Studio, is renowned for its unexpected and impactful moments on issues such as friendship, parenthood, pregnancy and even death.
Two new episodes from the final season, Turtleboy and Onesies, are no exception.
In Turtleboy, Bingo finds a toy turtle on the playground and wants to take it home, but his Bandit father says “it’s not done”.
Fans described their joy watching as the episode features newcomer Dougie and his mother, voiced by actress Miranda Tapsell.
Cavoodle-based Dougie is profoundly deaf and uses Auslan to communicate with his hearing mother, who signs and speaks.
Bluey’s official Facebook page is full of praise from viewers to the creators for including signed characters in the show, but not making them the focus of the episode.
“Thank you for Turtle Boy. My 5 year old suffered from an unknown hearing loss last year and now wears hearing aids. My favorite part of this episode is that you didn’t even make a thing out of it. Bluey at its best. don’t cry, you cry (yes darling, tears of joy),” Elspeth Singe wrote.
“I loved this episode for our hearing impaired son. It was great for our whole family to watch. Love seeing more of this character,” Nic Ky wrote.
“Thank you so much for including the signed characters and AUSLAN’s portrayal. Representation really matters. And just when you think Bluey can’t get better…you all brought me to tears,” said writes Megan Louise.
Ludo Studio worked with consultants from nonprofit service provider Deaf Connect to authentically create the Auslan interaction between Dougie and his mother, which includes 62 Auslan hand shapes and signs.
Deaf Connect’s Alex Fisher told ABC Kids Early Education that there were difficulties helping create the Auslan animation.
“Bluey’s characters have four fingers on each hand, which meant we were limited in some of the signs we could use, particularly if they required finger-spelling (if there is no Auslan sign for a word, the word is spelled using finger/hand letters),” Ms. Fisher said.
“In addition to hand shape considerations, it is important to use correct orientation, placement, movement and non-hand functionality.
“There were a few changes made along the way to properly reflect that after the scenes started coming together.”
Hot on the heels of Turtleboy’s release, Bluey hit his viewers right on target with Onesies.
The episode was highly anticipated by fans of the show as it features Mom Chilli’s sister Brandy for the first time, voiced by Australian actress Rose Byrne.
There had been fan theories about why Brandy and Chilli hadn’t spoken in years, but no one saw it coming.
After coming for a visit and giving her nieces Bluey and Bingo jumpsuits, it’s apparent that Brandy feels uncomfortable around the kids and her sister and tries to leave.
Later, Bluey asks her mother why Brandy is sad and why they only saw her once in their life.
On an edit of Brandy playing bingo, Chilli alludes to her sister not being able to have children:
“There’s something Aunt Brandy also wants more than anything, but she can’t have it, and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.”
Viewers shared their struggles with fertility on Bluey’s Facebook page and thanked the show for approaching the issue with empathy.
“Woah, that hit this IVF mom hard. This is the first time I’ve felt ‘seen’, and I’m just sad that it took a kids cartoon to make me feel that way. Thanks to the writers for addressing such an intensely emotional subject, for so many people, with such kindness, empathy and consideration,” Allana Handley wrote.
“I wasn’t ready for this episode. Such a sensitive subject handled by Team Bluey with the kindness and grace they are known for. Beautifully done. I’m sure there are a lot of viewers this morning who have great feelings,” Rhiannon Connon wrote.
Director of the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand, Manuela Toledo, said the episode was a good way to start a conversation with children about fertility.
“Every prep class has at least one or two kids who are there as a result of fertility treatment, so it’s an incredibly common thing,” Dr. Toledo said.
“There are a lot of different causes of fertility, this program is not appropriate to explain why Brandy hasn’t had a baby or wants to have a baby and can’t have a baby right now.
“There are also a lot of social factors that could come into play.
“Maybe she’s a single woman and couldn’t find a sperm donor, or maybe she’s in a same-sex relationship and couldn’t use sperm. or that she was unsuccessful with a sperm donor.
“There are a lot of other things that could be going on in the background, but I think the important thing is that it actually opens up that conversation.”
Onesies isn’t the first episode of Bluey to tackle fertility.
In the season two episode The Show, Bingo pretends to be his mother during an impromptu Mother’s Day performance and has a balloon hidden under his shirt like “a baby in his belly”.
When the balloon accidentally bursts, Bandit reaches out and touches his wife’s hand.
Although the show doesn’t say it explicitly, viewers have said it’s a subtle and sensitive way to portray pregnancy loss.
Bluey is available in Australia on ABC kids and iview.