‘Can it get more Aussie?’: Bluey State of Origin episode tells a relatable tale of a family divided

Australian animated series Bluey is winning widespread adoration yet again, this time for a new episode that depicts the age-old rivalry of the annual State of Origin rugby league match.

Veteran sports commentator Ray Warren – who who retired earlier this month after calling 99 Origin games – is heard in the opening lines of the episode titled The Decider: “It is winner takes all tonight.” His commentary booms from a broadcast where Bluey – along with family and friends – have gathered to watch Queensland play NSW from their Brisbane home.

Tensions run high over the six-minute episode, which also features the voices of former rugby league player Johnathan Thurston and commentator Gordon Bray. Bluey’s family are rusted-on supporters of the Maroons (Queensland’s “purple team”, she calls them) – a given for an animated series that was created in Brisbane.

But her neighbour Chucky must decide which state to back: his dad is from Queensland, and his mum from NSW.

“Whenever Dad’s colour is happy, Mum is sad,” Chucky says. “But whenever Mum’s colour is happy, Dad is sad.”

The dogs flit back and forth between Bluey’s porch, where everyone is uproariously cheering the Maroons, and Chucky’s neighbouring house, where his mum, Janelle, is vying for the Blues alone.

Surprising nobody, the creators of Bluey give the game to Queensland.
Surprising nobody, the Brisbane-based creators of Bluey give the game to Queensland. Photograph: ABC

“Dad, don’t boo Mum!” Chucky implores, after her father heckles her from across the yard.

Bluey, which is well into its third season on the ABC, is known for its trademark complexity, introducing knotty emotions into family programming without a magical, easy solution.

Chucky’s dilemma is no different: his final choice leads to a brief – albeit heart-wrenching – moment for the disappointed parent.

In two seconds, Bluey managed to encapsulate the feeling of a generation of Blues supporters 😂#Origin

— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) June 23, 2022

The episode has been praised for its portrayal of the intense community innate to sports – and what it means to go against the grain of your family’s team.

“It’s a lesson of the reality that decisions for children are hard when they know that someone they love is going to be hurt, no matter what they decide,” wrote ABC sports lead Kyle Pollard in a tribute to the episode.

On Twitter, users took the opportunity to induct their own children into the sporting rivalry.

The Origin episode of Bluey is officially banned from my home after my 4-year-old asked if she can “go for the purple team”.

— Maria Recouvreur (@mtsialis) June 23, 2022

Using the State Of Origin episode of Bluey to indoctrinate my children into Blues folklore and inform them that their mother is a cane toad.

— Matt Bevan (@MatthewBevan) June 23, 2022

Rabs x Bluey. What a way to start the day. @OfficialBlueyTV #StateOfOrigin #NRL

— Brendan Bradford (@1bbradfo) June 22, 2022

Others pointed to the sheer accuracy of the episode, both in the relatable heartbreak of the losing team, and a moment in the game where a try is – controversially – overturned by a TV replay.

the Bluey episode about State of Origin has a try disallowed by the Bunker which is incredible attention to detail

— Alex McKinnon (@mckinnon_a) June 23, 2022

Even Bluey knows the pain of being a @NSWBlues supporter from late 2000s to mid 2010s. Good news is things have improved since then. Chin up #Bluey #origin #backinblue

— Trevor Tye (@trevajct) June 23, 2022

Fans celebrated the State of Origin inclusion as another local nod in a globally successful show that has eschewed universality to firmly situate itself in Queensland.

Past episodes have featured a CityCat – a ferry service along the Brisbane River – and the recognisable landscape of Brisbane suburb Red Hill.

Bluey has done more to promote State of Origin to the overseas market than the Nrl has ever done 😂 #bluey #nrl

— mark (@voodoorock) June 23, 2022

Bluey using sport. Can it get more Aussie? #origin

— gh (@gh_312) June 22, 2022

Warren’s appearance also marks the latest in a series of famous guest appearances on Bluey.

A recent episode featured Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as an affable horse, while Natalie Portman had a voice spot narrating a whale documentary earlier in the season.

This year’s real-life State of Origin continues with Sunday’s eagerly anticipated Game 2 in Perth, where the Maroons can wrap up the series with victory over the Blues, before the teams reconvene in Brisbane for the final match of 2022 next month.

Season three of Bluey is currently airing on the ABC in Australia. The season lands in the UK and the US later this year.

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