what bluey teaches us about change (2024)

what bluey teaches us about change (1)

Before diving in, there are mild spoilers for the recent Bluey episode, The Sign, below!

“Why do stories always have happy endings?” Bluey, a seven-year old blue-heeler puppy and the titular character of the enormously popular Bluey, sits cross legged alongside her fellow anthropomorphic pups during story time.

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Calypso, the blue merle Australian shepherd teacher, closes the book. “Well, I guess ‘cause life will give us enough sad ones.”

The pups erupt into overlapping, tangentially related comments and observations about the story. Bluey then reveals to her classmates that she’ll soon be moving to another city and will never see her friends again. As the dogs howl in distress, Calypso begins to read a new book.

Long ago, a horse belonging to a Chinese farmer bolted away because the gate was not locked properly.

His neighbors gathered to commiserate. “What bad luck.”

“We’ll see.” The farmer replied.

The next day, the horse returned, bringing with him six wild horses.

This time, the neighbors rejoiced. “What good luck!”

Again, the farmer replied. “We’ll see.”

The next day, the farmer’s son, attempting to train one of the horses, was thrown off and fell to the ground, breaking his leg.

The neighbors were again distressed. “What a great tragedy! Such terrible luck.”

“We’ll see.”

The next day, a general from the Chinese army arrived to draft all healthy young men to fight in a war. Because he could not walk, the farmer’s son could not be drafted.

“What fortunate luck!” The neighbors rejoiced.

But the farmer, again, said, “We’ll see.”

Calypso closed the book. The tiny dogs sat perplexed by the uncertainty of the ending.

Bluey raised her paw. “Is that a happy or a sad ending?”

“It’s both.” Calypso replied.

This interaction sets up The Sign, a very special 28-minute episode of Bluey, in which Bluey copes with an impending family move against the backdrop of her godmother Frisky and Uncle Rad’s wedding. As Bluey desperately tries to prevent her family from moving (which she has deemed a very bad outcome), the adults in her life each wonder if they are making a mistake. In the uncertainty, they’re all searching for a sign that everything is going to be okay, that they’ve made the right choice.

Dichotomous thinking is the tendency to think of things in binary opposites, like opposing sides of a spectrum. This urge to categorize endings as happy or sad, to see situations as positive or negative, or to focus on winning or losing colors our experiences and influences how we make decisions. We look for constancy and comfort in our internal and external worlds. When emotions run high, there’s a natural pull for resolution to resolve tension. If we can classify a situation as happy, we can pursue it more (approach). If we classify a situation as sad, we can push it away (avoidance). There’s a safety to thinking like this, particularly when we’re young and don’t have much agency or control in our environments. As we age, it becomes much more difficult to ignore the complexities of life and relationships. Becoming entrenched in our viewpoints can become very painful.

Despite my best efforts, or maybe just my wishing, my daughter displays a competitive streak that, at present, causes her distress. She’s driven to win and, if she can’t be the best, she’s often uninterested in trying. She was a few seasons deep in Soccer Minis, the local soccer class for preschoolers, when this urge started to become apparent.

The coach set up a game in which the children dribbled the soccer ball to the opposite side of the field as fast as they could and then returned back to the middle of the field. Whoever completed this first won the round. As the coach blew the whistle, the kids kicked the soccer balls toward the goal, their speed limited by the awkwardness of their growing limbs and still developing coordination skills. Ayla remained steadfast in the middle of the group, her eyes focused on the ball.

The second round started and Ayla once again landed in between her teammates. As she kicked her ball one final time to reach the middle of the field, she stormed off.

“I don’t want to play.”

I handed her the water bottle. “You’re mad.”

She nodded and crossed her arms. “I never win. It’s not fair.”

“You’re not always going to win.” From the look I received from an adjacent mom, this may have been a controversial statement, though entirely factual.

“But everyone else won and I didn’t.”

In her singular focus on whether she won the game, she wasn’t able to focus on what else was happening around her. “I don’t think that’s true.” I replied. “You played two games. There’s eight of you here, and one kid won each round. That means six of you didn’t win this time.”

She stood silently for a few seconds, took a sip of water, and returned to the field.

“Hey, I like how you went back out there.” I told her when she returned to the sidelines for a water break.

“I remembered you said just to try and see what happens.”

We’ll see.

In contrast to dichotomous thinking, dialectical thinking means more than one thing can be true, accurate, or real at the same time. Dialectical thinking expands our perspective to make space for what’s actually happening, not what we want to happen or think should happen. Our own behaviors and others’ behaviors have been caused by many interactions over time. A fight with a partner is not only about the words that were said in the moment, but also about similar conflicts we’ve had in the past, our physical and emotional state during the fight, how our parents or caregivers handled conflict, and our internal beliefs about relationships. Ultimately, we are all connected. We influence others and they influence us.


  • I can be strong AND I can be vulnerable.

  • I want change AND I’m scared of change.

  • I am capable AND I need help sometimes.

  • I can love someone AND I can hurt someone.

  • I don’t like what happened AND I accept what happened.

Dichotomous thinking is pervasive - this food is good or bad, this person is toxic or healthy, I am healed or not healed, this ending is happy or sad. Dialectics create space for both / and, for complexity, for life to be full and expansive. In embracing dialectical thinking, we accept that the world is always changing and so are we.Dialectics create space for us to see.

I won’t spoil the end of The Sign anymore than I already have, but as interesting to me as the episode is the fear that it’s sparked in Bluey fans (parents, mostly). Numerous media outlets from The Atlantic to Vox have published pieces speculating that The Sign feels like a series finale, and there’s been no announcement of a fourth season. Bluey is a masterclass in screenwriting, beloved by parents and children alike, at the height of its popularity - how could something so great come to an end?

I wonder if the speculation is because, as adults, we know that beautiful things end, too. Perhaps, this is a parallel process. As the grownups in Bluey wonder if they are making the right decision, so too are the show creators. To embrace dialectics is to accept that we can love something and let it go.

As for my thoughts on the matter? I love Bluey and maybe it’s time for it to end.

In the fullness of time, we’ll see.

Trust Embodied with Angela Blizzard is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

what bluey teaches us about change (2024)
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