This Is Fascinating

Does Bluey Have Eldest Daughter Syndrome?

A for-real-life eldest daughter looks at the evidence.

Written by Nat Hrvatin
A scene from the popular kids' show, Bluey.

TikToker Kati Morton recently landed on many FYPs for explaining that eldest daughter syndrome, or EDS, is “a term coined to describe the unique pressures and responsibilities placed on the oldest daughter in the family.” In the now-viral video, Morton, a licensed marriage and family therapist, identifies eight traits of EDS. And like so many viewers in the comment section, I related to it. A lot.

Each trait resonated with me: an eldest daughter who recently made her brothers watch the three latest Bluey episodes while frequently stopping the episodes if they became distracted or if I had to point out the tiniest details. (At the end of the episode “Surprise,” I looked like the Charlie Day “Conspiracy” meme from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as I monologued about who Bluey’s baby daddy could be.)

Like Bluey, my occasionally bossy personality is a trait of EDS. But does Bluey, the eldest daughter of the Heeler family, have any of the other signs? I decided to take a closer look.

Trait 1: “You have an intense feeling of responsibility.”

Whether she’s determining who gets to play the coveted role of spy and who’s relegated to collecting potion grass (“Spy Game”) or she talks over her sister who’s struggling to find the right words to say (“Hairdressers”), Bluey struggles with letting go of control.

While Bluey takes on responsibility in many episodes, she doesn’t face more taxing emotional situations, such as having a family member rely on her for income or being placed in a caretaker role — though she does get a taste of the latter responsibility when pretending a group of balloons are her unruly children that she must mother (“Mum School”).

Trait 2: “You are an overachiever, type A, and very driven.”

Who’s more likely to take on responsibilities, sometimes at the expense of their own (or others’) well-being? Overachievers like Bluey!

In the episode “Perfect,” Bluey fixates on creating the “perfect” Father’s Day card for her dad. In this instance, she measures perfection by whether or not her drawing is worthy enough to be placed on the fridge. Her frustration over her inability to make the “perfect” picture is wholly relatable to us elder daughters who struggle with perfectionism.

If only we overachievers could learn to embrace our imperfections in the seven minutes it takes to watch a Bluey episode!

Trait 3: “You worry a lot and probably have anxiety.”

Does anyone not have anxiety these days? It makes sense that the brains behind Bluey would want to show moments of vulnerability that reflect anxiety that their audience might feel — an audience with ages that span generations.

When taking her to the movie theater, Bluey’s dad, Bandit, acknowledges her sensitive nature and asks if Bluey is ready to see her first movie (“Movies”). Bluey’s apprehension is clearly expressed as she asks the ticket-taker if there are any “scary bits” and learns of a thunderstorm scene that might be scary. Bluey enters the theater with her eyes covered and asks multiple times if the thunderstorm scene is on. Meanwhile, a carefree Bingo giggles as she bounces in her seat, spilling her popcorn (more than once).

While this depiction of Bluey’s anxiety looks minor compared to all the anxiety-inducing stressors of someone with EDS, it is cathartic to watch Bluey talk about her fears and work to overcome them as she does in “Double Babysitter” when Bluey is worried about having someone other than her parents put her to sleep.

Trait 4: “You struggle with people-pleasing behaviors.”

This trait was a tough one to spot in Bluey. Often, she confidently pursues what she wants and isn’t afraid to tell people “no.”

However, the series does address people-pleasing behaviors in other characters. In “Dance Mode,” Bingo’s outside voice says “yes” when her inside voice says “no,” leading other people to take opportunities and things away from her.

Trait 5: “You have a hard time placing and upholding boundaries.”

For this trait, I defer back to her need to be in charge when in group settings. But I’d argue that we see Bluey breaking others’ boundaries more often than having her own boundaries challenged. In the first episode, “The Magic Xylophone,” Bingo has to reiterate to Bluey that Bingo hasn’t had a turn to play along with Dad, which establishes a pattern of Bluey acting selfishly at times.

Still, I could also pose that the Season 3 episode “Cubbies” is a metaphor for having one’s boundaries broken down — quite literally so, when Dad accidentally knocks down Bluey and Bingo’s intricate cubby structure — which foreshadows a life-altering shake-up when it’s revealed a few episodes later that the Heelers’ beloved house is for sale.

Trait 6: “You resent your siblings and family.”

Of course, Bluey has occasional spats with her family, even though she once vows (unsuccessfully) to never squabble again. But one particular moment of resentment could be a byproduct of eldest daughter syndrome. In “Mini Bluey,” Bluey colors Bingo’s fur blue to make her a smaller version of herself, a game that backfires when the girls swap roles. As Bluey acts as a bigger version of Bingo, Dad lets on that he prefers Bingo’s easygoing, helpful spirit by saying he “could definitely get used to” having two Bingos.

A dejected Bluey compares herself to her sister and internalizes Dad’s throwaway comment as a confirmation that her little sister is more fun and “less annoying” than she is.

Trait 7: “You struggle with feelings of guilt.”

Although Bluey has some moments of guilt, like when she leaves Bingo in the middle of a game because their neighbor Judo doesn’t want to play with her (“Butterflies”), the guilt is short-lived. In this example, Bluey apologizes to Bingo and then rectifies her mistake.

Perhaps the series will one day approach a more deep-seated guilt, the type that would linger in the mind of a person with EDS. Granted, the show excels at peppering in details throughout consecutive episodes that lead to one big emotional revelation. Often, these revelations — like Bandit’s conflicted feelings over whether or not to sell their house — need several episodes (and a special 28-minute episode) to capture this emotional arc.

Trait 8: “You have a difficult time in your adult relationships.”

Fans (especially me) lost their sh*t over the most recent Bluey episode titled “Surprise,” where we met adult Bluey. From this glimpse, I can infer that Bluey maintains a positive, loving relationship with her parents. But I am hoping for future episodes that give insight into how Bluey’s conflicts translate into adulthood.

While we could easily debate the evidence for Bluey having these traits of eldest daughter syndrome, we may be missing the bigger picture. What’s more impactful is this show’s ability to reflect and maybe even heal the trauma of eldest daughters of all ages.