My five-year-old grand-daughter Ely knows a typewriter when she sees one (she owns a few too). So when, last month, a typewriter popped up on one of her favourite Australian animated children’s TV shows, Bluey, Ely let out a yell of delight.
The series Bluey premiered on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC Kids programme in October 2018. It’s shown on Disney Junior in the United States and internationally on Disney+. It won an Australian Logie Award for Most Outstanding Children's Program last year as well as an International Emmy Kids Award. The main character is an Australian cattle dog, a breed of short-coated herding dog originally developed in Australia for droving cattle over long distances across rough terrain (and known as a “heeler”). One variation has black hair distributed evenly through a white coat, giving the appearance of it being blue. Australians have a long-standing habit of adding the letter “y” to most names.
Bluey the TV dog is an anthropomorphic six-year-old characterised by her abundance of energy, imagination and curiosity of the world. According to the IMDb, the episode titled “Typewriter” rated 9.5 out of 10 and ranked fifth in the series’ “Best 10” episodes. In it, Bluey questions a story told by her teacher, which leads to her re-writing it on an old typewriter. Eventually, the typewriter goes missing and she enlists the help of her friends to find it again.
The series has been praised by television critics for depicting modern everyday family life, constructive parenting messages and a positive father figure. One reviewer said Bluey “feels like it was intended for people who hate children's shows. It manages to be engaging for kids while still being entertaining for adults. It never talks down to children, instead portraying a far more loving, albeit realistic family dynamic than most kids' TV shows.”
One response was, “Bluey had to learn that she didn't need a real typewriter to play at being a writer.” I doubt the scriptwriters, who presumably know real writing comes from real typewriters, would agree with this. And my experience in the past two years is that six-year-olds really do want to use typewriters. Just ask the curators at the Museum of Australian Democracy for confirmation about that. Or my grand-daughter Ely …