The Heeler's house with a For Sale sign out front.

Bluey’s “The Sign” Is Not The Helpful Moving Episode Parents Are Looking For

For families in the midst of big moves, “The Sign” has only made things more difficult.

Kids and their parents have been looking forward to a quadruple-stuffed Bluey episode for months now and it seems that, by and large, the episode did not disappoint. Boasting a whopping 9.9 out of 10 stars on IMDb, the episode has a surprise ending that has fans abuzz on social media. Many adults (and presumably at least a few kids) admitted to getting teary watching Bandit dramatically fling the “For Sale” sign that had been in front of their house into the street.

But for families preparing to move themselves, “The Sign” did not end how they had hoped.

Most fans were relieved to see that the Heeler family would be remaining in the community we’ve come to love so much over the course of three seasons. (I’m not too proud to admit shedding a happy tear.) But for those hoping “The Sign” might be emotionally instructive for kids struggling with a move — well, they were largely disappointed.

“imagine you’re a parent who has to move your kids out of your guys’ house and then they watch this episode and they think they’ll get to stay at the last minute omg,” tweeted user @prettycritical.

Over on Instagram, journalist Elizabeth Holmes, a mother of three kids ages 4, 6, and 8, wrote about the highly-anticipated episode in a post that’s received hundreds of comments and thousands of likes as of press time. “Rather than take viewers through that hard thing…the Bluey storytellers did an about-face??” she wrote, before continuing, “This is their happy ending, I guess? But what about all the kids out there who watch this and think that if they just protest enough, they can stop their parents from moving? Oof. It didn’t feel true to what Bluey is all about to me!”

Bluey is the one show [my children] will all willingly watch and love,” Holmes tells Romper. “We have books and toys and we sing the songs and my kids pretend to be the grannies and we love it.”

So when she realized on Sunday that there was a new, extra-long episode of the series, the whole family headed toward the TV. “Even my husband,” she says. “We all just stopped what we were doing and sat down on the couch. And the whole time I was sitting there I was like, ‘How is this going to shake out? What’s going to happen? Are they going to move? They have to move’ … I truly didn’t know. And then they didn’t!”

And then, she says, she thought to herself, “‘My God, if I had been watching this and we were in the thick of a move and [the show did] an about face like that, how would I have even begun to explain it to my kids?’” Holmes adds.

She could have asked Kimmie Fink, a mom of 5 and 8 year old in Maryland who is in the midst of her family’s fifth move in 10 years due to her spouse’s military career. While she says she loves Bluey, “The Sign” didn’t exactly make the family’s impending move easier. “Pulling up our ‘For Sale’ sign just isn’t an option,” Fink tells Romper. “My daughter has cried multiple times since we watched the episode, saying she doesn’t want to move because our house has so many memories. Choosing to end the show that way felt like a missed opportunity to let the characters sit with some discomfort, to show kids that ‘it will all work out fine’ doesn’t always mean you’ll get exactly what you want, and to give parents a model of how handle a difficult family situation, as the show has done so many times … mowing down obstacles for our kids isn’t doing them any favors. I wish Bingo and Bluey had the opportunity to experience change and develop the kind of resilience my kids, and all the military kiddos like them, are going to have in spades.”

“That’s not real life,” Holmes agrees. And while, yes this might seem like an odd and obvious thing to say about a children’s show that features talking dogs, the series prides itself on depicting realistic, everyday moments, ranging from the silly to finding the sublime in the every day. So to have an about-face so outside of the average family experience hit some fans as out of place.

“They handle very complicated things in a very thoughtful but realistic way that I really appreciate because it just helps give everybody language around big feelings and life questions,” Holmes continues.

So why not let the Heelers sit in the disappointment that sometimes comes along with a big move? Why not take the storyline to its logical conclusion, as the series normally does?

I can understand this disappointment, especially for families currently dealing with a move. It’s a process stressful enough for an individual, let alone a parent also trying to help their children process (reasonably!) big feelings.

Personally, I saw things a little differently. The fact that the family had made a kind of melancholy peace with the idea is significant and accomplished the primary narrative goal: radical acceptance. It’s at the heart of this episode, and the idea is exemplified in the mantra “We’ll see.” It helps Bluey see that even sad moments can lead to something good, including a move.

When Bingo suddenly truly grasps what “selling the house” will mean, she falls into despair, but Bluey is able to comfort her with the parable of the farmer, a story Calypso had told her days earlier at school. Even in the presence of a happy ending that ultimately maintained the status quo of the series, there was nevertheless growth. Bandit came to understand that giving your children “the best life possible” doesn’t have to hinge on having more money. Bluey and Chilli, sad though they were to leave Brisbane, were willing to make the change and trust that things could turn out well.

Was there a learning opportunity in a more realistic ending? Of course. And I have no doubt Bluey could have pulled it off. But I think it it all comes back to something Calypso told Bluey in school.

“Why do stories always have happy endings?” Bluey asks.
“Well,” muses Calypso, “I guess because life will give us enough sad ones.”

True enough.

Holmes also heard an argument in favor of the ending that helped her see the value in it. “Somebody pointed out that Bluey has created this entirely kid-led universe,” she explains. “You follow these characters and they’re on their adventures and their parents are always playing with them and they’re doing their funny games and it’s very much from the perspective of a kid. So in a world where the kids are the driving force of the family and the kids wanted to stay, then that makes sense to me, though I don’t know that it’s a nuance that kids viewing this can pick up on.”

She says that discussions with Bluey fans who did like the ending helped her to find her own acceptance of the way things turned out, even if she still felt the show didn’t quite stick the landing in the best way possible. “I now can be at a place where I can embrace the ending too ... I feel better about it having discussed it with strangers online,” she jokes.

Honestly, is there any other way for adults to discuss a cartoon intended for preschoolers?