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Why Bluey's Bandit Is the Best TV Dad

He may be a cartoon dog, but dads all over the world aspire to be like Bandit Heeler.
  • Bluey (Photo: Ludo Studio)
    Bluey (Photo: Ludo Studio)

    You don’t need to be a parent to love Bluey, one of the most popular shows airing today. The Australian animated series, which first premiered on ABC Kids in 2018 before internationally streaming on Disney+, has become a cultural phenomenon — kids and adults alike just can’t seem to get enough of the anthropomorphic Blue Heeler puppy, her loving parents Chilli (Melanie Zanetti) and Bandit (David McCormack), and adorable younger sister Bingo (not to mention those darn cousins Muffin and Socks!). 

    Although Bluey herself is undoubtedly the star of the show, her father Bandit has also cemented his status as an internet icon. He’s not only known for his “Oh, biscuits!” catchphrase and silly nature, but also for his (mostly) excellent parenting. 

    Bandit especially resonates with dads, many of whom consider him a role model — there’s even a Facebook group called “Bandits: The Bluey Group For Dads,” which boasts nearly 100,000 members. Even McCormack has admitted he can’t quite match up to his cartoon counterpart. “Bandit’s such an aspirational dad,” the actor said in an interview with Romper. “I’ll come home and try and be a better dad, but it doesn't last for that long.”

    TV dads, once a reliable source of wisdom and pipes, began to take a turn for the incompetent after the turn of the century. The “bumbling dad” trope — the dad who’s so useless, he may as well be just another kid — became pervasive in sitcoms and cartoons, from adult animated fare like The Simpsons to kids’ shows like Danny Phantom and Jimmy Neutron. Homer Simpson has his sweet moments, sure, but he’s hardly father of the year. There are also plenty of dads who are hardly around at all, like Zack and Cody’s father on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

    Bandit Heeler is a welcome departure from this tired stereotype. As an archeologist, devoted husband, and father of two, he has a lot to balance, but his family is always his top priority. He isn’t just an amusing cartoon dog who says funny lines and occasionally offers a valuable lesson — he’s quite possibly the best dad on TV today. 

    One of Bandit’s best qualities is how deeply involved he is in Bluey and Bingo’s lives. That may seem like the bare minimum as a parent, but he takes this to another level. He doesn’t just play pretend with the kids, he makes a point of fully immersing himself in their make-believe worlds. In “Rug Island,” he sets aside his work responsibilities and joins Bluey and Bingo in the backyard, where they’re pretending to rule over a deserted island. 

    The episode is a prime illustration of how Bandit learns just as much from his kids as they do from him. By allowing himself to just play and forget about being a grownup for a short while, he remembers how powerful imagination can be and why it’s important not to lose sight of it, even as an adult. He’s a lot like Bob Belcher that way. At the end of the episode, Bingo gives him a “present” (something rolled in a banana leaf). When Chili asks Bandit what she gave him, he smiles and replies simply, “Everything.” 

    Bandit also makes plenty of mistakes as a parent, which is actually refreshing. In “Burger Shop,” he reads a parenting book that recommends letting kids make their own decisions — when he tries to follow this advice, it’s (shocker) a total disaster. He ultimately realizes that, as much as he doesn’t want to be a “meanie” parent, it’s still necessary to put his paw down and discipline the kids sometimes. 

    Bandit also owns up to his mistakes and apologizes to the kids when he messes up. When he throws Bluey’s old drawings away in “The Dump,” she gets upset and declares he’s not, in fact, the “best dad in the world” like he claimed to be. Instead of being frustrated, however, Bandit takes her words to heart and admits that, no, he’s not perfect. “You're right, Bluey. I'm not,” he says. “Or the best driver. And I don't know everything, either.” 

    In the end, what makes Bandit a great dad is the way he treats Bluey and Bingo. He never talks down to his kids or acts like he’s above making mistakes — instead, he meets the girls on their level, makes a real effort to understand their feelings and way of thinking, and sincerely learns from them. He may not be a perfect parent, but he doesn’t need to be. Cartoon dog or not, the world would be a better place with more dads who are as loving as Bandit Heeler.

    Bluey is streaming on Disney+.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: Bluey, Disney+, Bob's Burgers, The Simpsons, Bandit, Father's Day, Kids' Programming