This week has been a time of reflection on many historical moments in our collective memory-making. Forever memorialized through the question “Where were you when”, I will always remember that it was during a late night TikTok scroll when I found out that Steve from Blues Clues was coming back. And while Steve leaving the series might not be something that you remember, the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of views and likes on the videos crossing my feed shows how big of a moment and memory Steve’s exodus from the series was to so many Millennials.
For those who don’t know, in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Blues Clues was one of the most popular children’s television shows on Nickelodeon and Steve acted as the host and owner of the title character, a little dog named Blue. The show was so popular in fact, that the style of Blue’s Clues created the blueprint (no pun intended) for most of the shows that Nickelodeon began to produce at that time i.e. Dora The Explorer, Ni Hao Kai-Lan, etc. Instead of being shot with a traditional studio audience, these series offered a direct address audience model that made the viewer feel as if the host was talking directly to them.
In this sense, the relationship that many Millennials built with Steve and Blue is a direct reflection of this unique television model. Through directly addressing the audience, we were encouraged to respond and play along with the series characters as if we were also a part of the show. Which is why so many of us were saddened in 2002 when Steve decided to leave the series to go away to college. He was then replaced by a new host, a character called Joe, who was not terrible but was also not the person that we had grown to love and care about over so many years.
Funnily enough, because I have younger siblings, I was able to keep track of Steve’s career away from Blue’s Clues, and I will never forget the feeling of shock and betrayal that I felt seeing him playing children’s music on the series Jack’s Big Music Show. It would seem that Steve never “went away to…