Fans of an adorable Australian cartoon are accusing anime fans of review bombing their favorite episode after it took the #2 spot on IMDb’s greatest TV episodes of all time list, before quickly gathering negative reviews and dropping down the list.
blueywhich airs on Disney+ outside of Australia, stars a family of heeler dogs/Australian cattle dogs living in Brisbane: Mom Chilli, dad Bandit, big sister Bluey, and little sister Bingo.
The show is mostly what you’d expect from a cartoon aimed at preschool-aged kids. Each episode has the classic learning of life lessons (aka “lime lessons,” as they’re referred to in one episode) and family hijinks. Bluey and Bingo go to school; hang out with their cousins, Muffin and Socks; and use their imaginations to make up games and play pretend.
But unlike many kids shows that parents have to suffer through watching over and over again, Bluey is a special breed that succeeds in being a true “family” show with wide appeal, even to those without children: The New York Times named ‘Sleepytime’ one of the best TV episodes of 2020, and it has previously been described as “the best kids’ show of our time” by New York Magazine.
Bluey achieves this not just through visual and sonic beauty (the soundtrack even has its own vinyl), but primarily by showcasing the silly and the serious side-by-side. The episode ‘Copycat’ starts off with a game of copycat between Bandit and Bluey, but takes a turn when they discover a dying bird while running around the neighborhood. Bluey learns about the finality of death, and uses playtime with her family to process her grief.
An episode about an exhausted parent picking up takeout Chinese food with two restless toddlers in tow turns into a meditation on the brevity of childhood.
Parents are left floored by the little things that their kids won’t pick up on, like allusions to infertility (‘The Show,’ ‘Onesies’), more elusive discussions about aging and death (‘Grandad,’ ‘Flat Pack’) , and how parenting isn’t always easy or straightforward (“Driving,” “Octopus,” “Sheep Dog,” “Dirt”).
This isn’t your average Peppa Pig, which showcases a bratty protagonist and parents who aren’t people outside of the context of their children. Bandit himself has gotten a lot of press for being a role model to dads everywhere, invested in his kids and his relationships with his wife and friends—when was the last time anyone heard about Daddy Pig having interests?
For a brief moment, a bluey episode called ‘Sleepytime’ had the #2 spot, right behind ‘Ozymandias,’ the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad.
‘Sleepytime’ is one of the more sentimental episodes of the show, leaving kids and parents alike tear-eyed during the credits. In the season 2 episode, Bingo is in the phase where she has trouble staying in her own bed during the night, telling her mom that she wants to do a “big girl sleep,” but Chilli just tells her to do her best.
In Bingo’s dream, she and her stuffed rabbit, Floppy, hatch out of eggs resembling the Earth and moon, and adventure around the solar system to a soundtrack that heavily interpolates Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Outside of the dream world, Bingo sleepwalks around the house and gets into hijinks with her exhausted family members, represented in her dream by other planets.
Back in her dream, a shivering Bingo cries by herself, but is quickly transported to the Sun to warm up where, in real life, her mom snuggles her as she sleeps. But Bingo tells her mom that she’s a big girl now, and wants to sleep alone, to which Chilli/the Sun replies, in a tear jerking moment as the soundtrack swells, “Remember I’ll always be there for you, even if you cant see me, because I love you.”
The episode is a frequent topic of conversation among the nearly 50,000 members of the r/bluey subreddit. Around a year ago, people began discussing how the episode had a 10/10 rating on IMDb, but more recently a campaign formed around bumping it into the top 250 episodes list: if it got 1000 votes that kept it at a weighted average of 10 /10, it would become television royalty.
TikTok user Walmart Seth Rogen made a follow-up TikTok celebrating the episode’s ascent to #2 on the list.
Daley Pearson, the co-founder of Ludo Studios, which makes blueytweeted out the news with a celebratory screenshot on July 31.
But ‘Sleepytime’s’ day in the sun was short lived. Soon after it reached the #2 spot, it started getting some negative reviews that knocked it down. As of this writing, ‘Sleepytime’ is ranked 17th. It wasn’t hard to force ‘Sleepytime’ back down the ranking, as many of the other episodes on the list have tens of thousands more ratings than bluey, meaning that just a few votes would radically change the episode’s weighted average. In this case, 116 vindictive reviewers tanked the dreams of bluey fans everywhere. on the bluey subreddit, people have speculated that anime fans, specifically fans of Attack on Titanare to blame due to the fandom’s history of retaliatory review bombing.
On Twitter, people are also talking about bluey‘s recent ascent as if it’s in competition with anime fans, but Motherboard didn’t see any evidence of who is behind the negative reviews.
The world has been a pretty horrid place for the past few years, with tragedy after tragedy and collective trauma making it hard for anyone to keep moving forward. The unfettered joy and wonder of childhood is something that, in my current life stage, I don’t get exposed to enough. Watching bluey has given me a taste of this, making me think deeply about the parent I so desperately want to be, in spite of everything. And that’s something that not even anime fans can take away from me.
Season 3 of Bluey will air on Disney+ in the US starting August 10.