swing & a miss

A dinner scene from 'Bluey' above and a very similar looking dinner scene in 'Chip Chilla.''
Disney+ | The Daily Wire

This Show Is Clearly Trying To Be The Next Bluey & Here's Why That Will Never Happen

The attempt is its first failure.

Originally Published: 

Earlier this week, right-wing media company The Daily Wire launched Bentkey, its subscription streaming service focused on children’s television. Its mission is super-duper normal and not at all unhinged: to combat “the Left’s” “not so secret gay agenda.” Among the series featured there is Chip Chilla, a show about vibrantly colored homeschooling chinchillas. Many have noted that this series looks... similar to a show featuring a certain family of beloved Australian heelers and they’re definitely not wrong. From the color scheme to the scenery to the theme song, it’s pretty clear that at the very least Chip Chilla is striving for a Bluey vibe. I can’t say for certain that they’re explicitly setting out to copy Bluey... legally. But in my legally protected opinion that also feels very clear. In fact, as I was putting together this article, getting screenshots of each series, my daughter looked at the one of Chip Chilla and said, “Is that Bluey?”

Oh. It’s trying, baby.

The similarities are egregious. And the fact that this apparent copycat is linked to The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, a man best known for his intentionally inflammatory hot takes and inability to understand how vaginas work, only adds to our indignation. But ultimately, I strongly doubt Chip Chilla is doing anything half a dozen other children’s shows aren’t going to try in the next few years.

Either these chinchillas have the same interior decorator as the Heelers or...Bentkey
These dogs are clearly making me want to destroy capitalism...Bentkey

Bluey is a runaway international success: it’s won the praise of audiences and critics alike along with dozens of prestigious awards. It is the most downloaded show in the history of the Australian Broadcast Company. It makes sense that corporations will look at that success and say “How can we cut/paste/copy this for our own portfolio without actually infringing on copyrights?” They’ll pore over the series looking for the things that make it so popular.

“Is it the dogs?”

“Is it the fact that it’s set in Australia? Do the kids like Australia now? Go check TikTok and see if that’s a thing!”

“Is it the colors? The music? Is it the family set-up?”

What is it about Bluey that brings in money? How can we make money like Bluey does?

I can promise you that every single one of those folks, including the team making Chip Chilla, will take the wrong lessons from the source material they seek to emulate. But you know how movie studios saw the incredible success of Barbie and all came to the conclusion that audiences want more movies based on toys and not that audiences want more original stories for, by, and about women? Ooh! Remember Maxie dolls? Or Snailiens? No. Of course you don’t. They were toys that tried to copy Barbie and Ninja Turtles respectively and failed miserably because the companies that made them only tried to understand the finished product rather than the heart of what kids liked about them.

Chip Chilla and similar efforts are, I suspect, going to be a lot like that.

Because projects that seek to put profits or agenda first will always sacrifice the quality of the art itself to achieve those ends. They can only ever see the parts that make up the whole and can’t help but miss the essence at the core. Sadly, one of the many thing ideologues and business ghouls never understand is anything with a real heart and soul.

Moving and heartfelt exploration of the life cycle? NO! This episode is brainwashing your kids to believe in evolution!Disney+

What makes Bluey such a success is that it’s not imitating anything that came before it. The only thing it’s “copying” is the real life emotions and circumstances of modern families. And that’s not to say that Ludo, the studio that makes Bluey, isn’t out to make money. If I were series creator Joe Brumm, I would happily roll around in a big pile of it every night before I went to bed. But it’s a show that clearly has a lot of thought and effort put into it, and the only “agenda” it’s trying to push is the simple fact that children learn through play. As a result you have stories that audiences can connect to and characters families can see themselves in. Seeking to copy that is just a copy of a copy, and anyone who’s ever used a Xerox can tell you that those can only ever decrease in quality.

In short, Chip Chilla and any other series trying to be the next Bluey is failing specifically because it’s trying. Any show that wants to be the next Bluey is going to have to set out to only ever be itself.

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