'Bluey' creators have perfect response after 'Exercise' episode sparks concern from parents
Several claimed the episode perpetuated harmful messages about exercise and body weight.
The Australian kids' cartoon “Bluey” is pretty universally loved by young and old audiences alike. People appreciate the show’s unique way of blending wholesome humor with mundane or even difficult situations in a way that feels both mature and whimsical.
On a recent “Bluey” episode titled “Exercise,” Bluey’s father, Bandit, becomes disappointed after stepping on the bathroom scale, grabbing his tummy and declaring he needs to start exercising.
"Oh man...I just need to do some exercise," Bandit laments.
"Tell me about it," Bluey's mother, Chilli, chimes in before stepping on the scale herself and shares a similar reaction to her own numbers.
Responses to the episode were mixed. Many viewers in Australia who watched the episode expressed concern that it subliminally sent some toxic messages around body weight—in particular, the message of equating exercise with losing weight rather than overall health.
@laceyjadechristie I have so many thoughts about this scene and I am so interested To see what you think. #bluey#fatshaming#bodypositivity#fatliberation#parenting♬ original sound - Lacey-Jade Christie
One viewer wrote on Twitter: “I adore @OfficialBlueyTV & the messages it sends [but] watching Bandit stand on a scale & squeeze his belly, frowning, sends a msg to kids that fat = bad & exercise = weight loss. V upsetting.”
Some felt that the show merely reflected an honest part of parenting and that the backlash was unwarranted.
“I am a parent and I felt really seen by this—your body changing after kids because you don’t have the time or energy to exercise like before.”
Still, a few actual health professionals chimed to affirm how the scene could be problematic. Over on Instagram, pediatric dietitian Dr. Kyla Ringrose explained that while she loved the show for being so relatable to parents, the show “missed a big opportunity” to teach kids the other more intrinsic benefits of exercise, rather than once again having ”trusted adults (albeit dogs!) expressing dissatisfaction with how their body looks. All bodies are good bodies.”
Ringrose added: “If this episode were remade so the first 30 seconds were about Bandit not having energy or Chilli feeling a bit flat, and they decide to get some movement in to feel well, I’d be all for it. @OfficialBlueyTv how about it?”
“Bluey” creators took notice of the complaints, and immediately revised the episode for both ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation) and the BBC.
The new scene can be seen online thanks to generous souls on TikTok. The clip below, shared by “Bluey” enthusiast @AussieGirlMagic, shows a side-by-side comparison of the two versions. This time around, Bandit is seen simply whipping out the fitness mat and putting on the exercise playlist.
@aussiegirlmargie Ludo studios listened to HEALTH PROFESSIONALS and changed the Bluey episode Exercise from season 3 #bluey#blueytok#blueyseason3#blueyexercise#disney#ludostudios#blueyheeler#banditheeler♬ Bluey Theme Tune - Bluey
So far, many have applauded the decision, particularly those who had to grow up with their own issues around exercise that began with early messaging.
Here are a few comments from TikTok:
“I’m glad they did this, seeing my parents focusing so much on their body image as a kid really affected how I see my own.”
“Love to see it! I’m glad they were so receptive to the genuine concerns around health and wellness.”
“As someone with an ED, I’m really glad they made this decision.”
“This is great! Exercise should be motivated out of health and fun, not out of shame or fear of weight.”
Though this “Bluey” episode has yet to air in the U.S., it’s safe to assume that American audiences will be watching the edited version when that happens.