Opinion: My Appreciation for Bob’s Burgers

Let’s go back to 2011, shall we? It’s that time, and an all new cartoon has is premiering on Fox with a ton of fanfare. Everyone was talking about it. It was the hype of something special, and from what could be said, could be the next big Sunday cartoon hit for Fox. There were countless ads for it, a bunch of interviews with the voice actors and creators. It was everywhere. That show …. was Allen Gregory. It stared Jonah Hill as a little smartass, who was supposedly a genius who had two gay dads and a sister, and he didn’t take crap from no one. Anyway, Allen Gregory premiered. And boy, did it SUUUCCCKKK!! Like, worse than suck. It was a hodgepodge of god-awful jokes, offensive gay stereotypes, and had one of the worse one sided romances I ever seen with the 7-year old star falling for an out-of-shape lunch lady. I am still haunted by the scenes they made of Allen in his mind making love to her. Ew. The show was a huge disaster, and didn’t make it through a whole season. Hell, it only made it through 7 episodes. However, through that hellspawn of despair, there was another show that also premiered that year, before it, with not as much fanfare at all. It didn’t get a lot of ad space to show its stuff, if at all. But it still premiered and made its own way through their own season. It got a 2nd season as well, and more. Now, this little show that didn’t get the most attention may be Fox’s best cartoon on its block. That show is Bob’s Burgers. Even with The Simpsons still going on after 25+ seasons, and Family Guy still being Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers has evolved itself into its own show that makes it one-of-a-kind on the Fox cartoon block.

The show is a pretty simple one. It’s the story of the everyday lives of an American family of five, who run a burger restaurant, and all that happens with their friends, neighbors, and everything else in their seaport town. The dad, Bob Belcher, is the one who manages the restaurant the most. He’s usually the most level headed of the bunch, maintaining family order with his burgers as best he can. Of course, he does has his moments throughout. The mom, Linda, is usually very energetic, free-caring, and loves to sing and dance as often as she can, at any moment. Then there are the three kids. Louise, the youngest, is the one that has the mind of a rebellious teenager inside a 9-year old’s body. She usually likes to create chaos all around, but she does has a soft spot for her friends. Gene, the middle child, is a fun, chubby kid who loves to eat, play music, and loves to be just in his underwear most of the time. Then there’s the oldest, Tina. She is the very awkward one of the bunch. She’s into a lot of things: Boys, butts, horses, butts, zombie fanfic, butts, kissing. Did I mention butts? She is the usual teenage girl growing up through puberty’s weird, fun stages.

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The family has their quirks throughout, but they are all charming in their own ways. Tina and her awkwardness, Gene being a fun, lovable oaf, Louise being rambunctious, Linda doing what she wants, and Bob hoping his family doesn’t ruin his dream he has. It’s what makes for a good family. But it’s not just them. The town itself is full of characters. There’s their ever loyal customer, Teddy, a handyman who loves Bob as much as he loves his food. Mort, the mortician who lives next door to them, and is also a loyal customer. Their landlord, Mr. Fischoeder, who as crazy as you expect from any rich landlord. Their rival restaurateur, Jimmy Pesto, who always cause problems for the group. The health inspectors, who always come to give Bob grieve, even when there’s not a problem. There’s also Linda’s sister, Gayle, who is the atypical crazy cat lady. But it’s not just the adults. The other kids there are also a hoot. There’s Jimmy Pesto Jr., the stuttering boy who loves to dance, and who Tina is obsessed with. His pal, Zeke, who loves get into mischief and wrestle Jimmy. Tammy, the obvious “bad girl” of the show. There are even two Rudy’s on here that the show gives nicknames to, “Regular-Size” Rudy and “Pocket-Sized” Rudy. The show has a bunch of ragtag bunch that either appear often, sometimes just a few times a season, or just is there for a couple episodes throughout the series. They all make an impression in some way.

The show did take a bit to get going, as most shows did. The first season had its ups and downs, as there were many hits as there were misses. But, in my opinion, I knew something special was happening when I saw the “Sacred Cow” episode. In it, someone protested the Belcher’s restaurant with a cow, and even though Bob hated it, he does come to appreciate the cow, and accept it as a member of the family. I could see the potential there as Bob’s Burgers, after the first season of mixed episodes, has been as consistent throughout the seasons. In fact, it may have evolved to be the funniest cartoon, maybe even the funniest show, on Fox itself.

The one thing that it does well that the others cartoons on there don’t is that it doesn’t go into the rounds of making its show too mean or vulgar. Of course, when I say this, I’m mostly talking about going the Family Guy route. You know how it is with that show. Hell, I made an article on Swim Squad about how Family Guy got ruined because their characters have been turned into assholes who have no ounce of moral left in them. Bob’s Burgers is a lot more closer to The Simpsons than they are to Family Guy, in terms in how mean it can get. But even so, they’re still a lot nicer than Homer or Mr. Burns. The only person who is a jerk most the time is Jimmy Pesto with his rivalry with Bob. But being a fellow restaurant owner next door is gonna incite this, and does make for some quality dueling between the two. That what makes Bob’s Burgers pretty good in my eyes. Not everything has to be mean-spirited or offensive as hell to incite a laugh. It doesn’t have to crap on other shows just to make a 2-bit joke. (Which, by the way, Family Guy has done to Bob’s Burgers twice already. Including in the Simpson’s crossover episode.) Bob’s Burgers proves that, showing that it can take whatever it wants to do, and do it its own way with being unique and not grotesque in how it handles its business.  That’s also a big problem that Family Guy has. Their episodes have had some interesting story plotlines that could work on any show, even on here, but it keeps getting in its own way, and fails throughout. It’s what happens when you focus on the characters, instead of the same cutaway jokes that haven’t been funny since 2005.

Another thing that separates Bob’s Burgers from the other two shows? It doesn’t get anywhere too political or religious. The political nature of things is where both The Simpsons and Family Guy have gotten too much, especially with Family Guy. The Simpsons have always been throughout 50/50 on both and made fun of both sides heavily, but lately have seen to go to a bit more liberal. While Family Guy, even though they do have some right-leaning episodes, have always been through Seth MacFarlane’s own liberal viewpoints, and a bunch of the later episodes have shown this with how they pan out. Which is ironic in of itself, since the family he shows it through usually acts like a bunch of drunken rednecks at a NASCAR event. Bob’s Burgers has had no political views from all the episodes I seen. That is a change of pace that feels like a breath of fresh air. The only one close to it I seen is the one earlier this year, and that was just for an election for school president. As for the religious aspects of it? If you want to count Bob’s “Oh My God” throughout, I guess that’s it. The closest they got were a few jokes about religion, and making a fake religion with an aquarium to get by the IRS.

Bob’s Burgers focuses mostly on the family life and feels mostly like a slice-of-life anime comedy. Oh, you thought I wasn’t gonna bring up anime on here, did you? Bob’s Burgers does have some Japanese influences in some of the episodes. There’s the Thanksgiving episode that did a homage to My Neighbor Totoro, and even the “Hawk & Chick” episode is based on the Lone Wolf & Cub series. And it’s not just that. They have done game shows, video games, spaghetti westerns, and a bunch of musical numbers. They even did an episode that made light of the My Little Pony fandom. Even the family themselves were in an Archer episode to boot. Makes sense since Archer and Bob are both voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. Speaking of, the voice actors for the family are unique. With Kristen Schall voicing Louise being the exception, the family is voiced by guys. Dan Mintz voices Tina, who was suppose to be a teen boy in the pilot (They decided to keep his voice for her). John Roberts voices Linda, and Eugene Mirman voices Gene. There are other female guest voices on the show with Aunt Gayle and the Pesto twins, Ollie and Andy, being voiced by Megan Mullally and the Silverman sisters, respectfully, as examples. But they bring their own style to each voice they give to these delightful characters.

It’s amazing how far this show has come. From being little known, to getting a mixed first season, to now being as constantly good as it is now. Sure, the time schedule it is on is always jumping around still, but it still has a solid fanbase who turns out, and has become a nice commodity on Adult Swim and even TBS now. It has gotten constant ad time on Adult Swim, with their ads that feel just like the show, and even better airslots. It’s now shown twice a week at 10 PM weekdays, and might be getting a bit more attention than the other Fox reruns they show. It what happens when you get as good as Bob’s Burgers has become. The show that was just about a small burger place trying to make its own has grown into so much more the last six years. And as the other shows don’t want to admit it as much as the people in their town do, Bob’s Burgers has become the best place to showcase what to do. You can still have some Sass-a-ma-tazz in ya. You can still do fart jokes and episodes that revolve around a “Mad Pooper” terrorizing the school. You can “UHHHHHH!!” as much awkwardness into a romantic situation. You can have all the chaos that a little girl can bring.

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In the end, if you can do them right, you get a quality show that can stay consistent and be as fun as any show on TV. Bob’s Burgers does that, and then some. It may be why it has been on the air for more than 120 episodes, and not Allen Gregory. Thank goodness for that.

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