Whether it was getting the mail, playing, or dancing, kids who were fans of Blue’s Clues knew that they could always count on Steve. The host of the show, who always wore a green striped shirt and khaki pants, became a BFF to the legions of little fans who learned how to count (and be kind) while watching the beloved children’s show. And then, one day, he was gone — until he suddenly reappeared last week in a now-viral video that has parents and kids alike sobbing. Because the Blue’s Clues viral video has given us the closure we never knew we needed.
In honor of the Blue’s Clues 25th anniversary, actor Steve Burns sent a message to his now-grown fans to let him know what he’s been doing all these years — and to see how they’re doing, too. Dressed in his iconic outfit (and baseball cap), Burns spoke directly into the camera, and paused after every question (just like he did in the show) to let the audience respond. #Bossmove.
“You remember how when we were younger, we used to run around and hang out with Blue and find clues and talk to Mr. Salt and freak out about the mail and do all the fun stuff?” said Burns.
“And then one day, I was like, ‘Oh hey, guess what? Big news, I’m leaving. Here’s my brother Joe, he’s your new best friend,’ and then I got on a bus and I left and we didn’t see each other for like a really long time? Can we just talk about that? Great. Because I realize that was kind of abrupt.”
Maybe it’s the way he’s pausing (as he did in all those episodes) to allow the viewer to answer that got you. Or the fact that he’s looking Right. At. You and listening, when the world can feel so noisy right now. No matter what, there are so many big feels in this video, and here are the clues to understanding why you’re probably feeling choked up now.
Steve Burns Showed Vulnerability
No one likes making mistakes (and even less owning up to them). But Burns did both in the video, by connecting with kids and admitting that his departure was, in his words, “abrupt.” “It was refreshing to see an adult admit mistakes, and express the truth of a situation that we often don’t acknowledge to children,” Beth Tyson, MA, a licensed child therapist, tells Celebrity Parents. “Steve’s message is one we wish we heard more as children from the adults in our lives, but they weren’t able to show us due to the way children are viewed in our culture.” By acknowledging the mistake, it honored the negative feelings that fans might have felt surrounding his departure.
Kids Were Attached To Steve Burns
Change isn’t easy, especially the bonds we form as young children. The video shined a spotlight on the fact that there was still an open wound, that maybe many didn’t even realize that they had, that needed to heal, according to Justine Mastin, MA, LMFT, LADC, E-RYT 200, YACEP, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “When we’re young, we have very strong fandom attachments to our favorite characters. So those who watched Steve on Blue’s Clues as children felt emotionally connected to Steve,” explains Mastin. “They were hurt when he left without explanation. And now to have him return during this time of great cultural distress was such a source of comfort. This comfort is something that we are all craving.”
There Was The Nostalgia Factor
Admit it. When Steve first came on the screen, the world did a collective, “OMG! It’s Steve!” And that makes sense, since kids establish a strong connection to people, even those on TV. So to get to see him again (and he pretty much looks the same, BTW), it immediately upped the nostalgia factor, Kait Towner, LMHC, RPT, CCPT, IMH-E, a licensed mental health counselor explains. “It is a difficult time for kids and adults alike due to being in the middle of a global pandemic,” says Towner. “So many of us are clinging to happy moments and media, such as this video, because it brings such joy to our life during this challenging time. It is fun for adults to reminisce and think about the fun and adventures that were had with Steve, Blue, and his friends versus thinking about masks, covid numbers, and other adult problems.”
Your Feelings Were Validated
Losing a friend hurts. And when your buddy, who you’ve spent every single day with, suddenly moves away and sets you up with their brother to play with from now on, well, it’s even more painful. Steve simply stating that the change was abrupt and challenging validated any feelings that viewers had about their good friend Steve leaving the show. It communicated that their thoughts and feelings mattered and still matter today. “Blue’s Clues was one of the first shows to really use characters like Steve to talk through the screen – break the 4th wall – as an integral part of the show, which allowed children and parents to bond with Steve in a very meaningful way,” says Nancy Jennings, a professor of children’s media. When he left the show, viewers experienced a parasocial breakup and had to say goodbye to their friend. Now, he’s back in this new YouTube video and he is leaning into his character and re-igniting that relationship – he hasn’t forgotten about them and they haven’t forgotten about Steve.”
Steve Was Proud Of Us
Remember that feeling when someone very important to you (whether it was a parent, a teacher, or a mentor) said that they were proud of you? Well, the same holds true for when Steve acknowledges that he couldn’t be where he is today without all of us.
“And then look at you, and all you have done, and all you have accomplished in all that time. And it’s just…it’s just so amazing, right?
I mean, we started out with clues, and now, it’s what? Student loans, and jobs, and families, and some of it has been kind of hard, you know? I know you know.
And I wanted to tell you that I really couldn’t have done all of that without your help. And in fact, all the help that you helped me with when we were younger is still helping me today. Right now. And that’s super cool.”
“When I was personally watching the video, I got chills when Steve was speaking about all of the success and accomplishments that his viewers have made since he departed the show,” says Towner. “Steve was such a huge figure in so many viewers’ lives, and having such a figure praise you for all of the accomplishments and positive changes that have happened over the years is incredibly touching and moving.”
Even though it’s to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Blue’s Clues, Steve Burns did something good for humanity by checking in with his fans once again, saying thank you to them, and acknowledging the fact that life is so, so hard right now. It was the comfort (and closure) that everyone needed right now. We’ll let Burns close this article out:
“I guess I just wanted to say that after all these years, I never forgot you. Ever. And I’m super glad we’re still friends.”
Cue ugly cry.