This post was originally published at my account on Steemit.com.
There have been a lot of animated comedies over the years.
Most of the recent ones have been trying to capitalize on the success of The Simpsons. In fact, a lot of them have been straight-up Simpsons rip offs.
Which is one reason why the show I’m talking about today, Bob’s Burgers, has been so refreshing.
Now, to begin with, I should say that this show has not had a good marketing campaign. It is, in some ways, a show that does not lend itself well to marketing.
That. Is. Unfortunate.
Because the show itself is actually pretty great. It’s character-driven comedy does not depend on hyperbolic buffoonery. Instead, it’s based on people you know.
Because these are the kind of people that everyone has met, yet nobody really understands, and when you’re watching the show, you remember these people, and then you laugh, because you wonder how on Earth you ever forgot them.
Let’s list them, from funniest to least funny.
The best part of the show, by far. Tina is that girl you once knew…or possibly once were.
She is an awkward teenage girl who believes with all her heart that she’s got it together, even though she is a total basket case. She’s too sweet to be mad at her place in the world, so she channels her adolescent awkwardness into being even more awkward.
She’s Jan Brady, except without the martyr complex.
Ironically, he is only the second best part of his own show. But that’s okay, because he is still an excellent character.
Played with gruff exuberance by the talented H. Jon Benjamin. Bob sets him apart from literally all other sitcom dads ever by not being a complete troglodyte.
It’s sad that this alone makes him such a revolutionary character. But after all the Homer Simpson clones we’ve had to endure, it’s nice to have a Bob Belcher on TV.
Bob is not an idiot. In fact, he is extremely talented at his chosen vocation, which, as the title suggests, is making burgers. He is something of a burger prodigy, but he doesn’t market himself well (much like his own show) so his business is constantly in trouble.
And, while he is not a typical bumbling dad character, he does suffer from a monolithic character flaw: his pride. He knows he’s the genuine burger Amadeus, and the fact that other people don’t realize that sometimes sets him off, especially when he is heckled by his across-the-street neighbor and business competitor, Jimmy Pesto.
Bob’s struggle for recognition sets up most of the conflicts in the show, as he sometimes puts himself at risk to get his name out there. But he is also wise, able to clean up most of his own messes, and even some of the other characters’ messes as well. He is a character both to laugh at and to love, and is certainly the heart of the show.
Gene and Linda
I’m putting these two together since they’re tied for third place in the funny race.
Linda is the ultimate mom character. Your mom loves her and thinks she is the greatest part of the show. She tells mom jokes, and she tells them with mom delivery and timing.
She always acts impressed any time anyone makes a proclamation, except for when she is really swept away, in which case she becomes just a little breathless. She is never afraid of anything, though she can be easily annoyed at a lot of things. And no matter what terrible things are happening to her family, she is convinced that everything is great and this is exactly what she wants.
Gene is something a bit original: he’s the comic relief in a show that’s already a comedy. Outrageously enthusiastic about every small victory that comes his way, he does not care how many cultural or universal taboos he breaks in the pursuit of being the center of attention. You’ve definitely had someone like this in your life growing up. If not, then you haven’t really lived.
Louise’s character has changed a great deal since the show started. In the earlier episodes, it seemed like she was being pushed to become the most popular character. But as the show progressed, she faded more into the background. And, honestly, it’s not hard to see why.
Louise is closest to being a typical animated sitcom character. She was conceived almost as a female Bart Simpson. As such, she feels out of place in a show that is trying to subvert the typical animated sitcom archetype. Some of her antics are entertaining, but they don’t go much further than that.
Thankfully, she has found a new role as the straight man of the series. Louise is one of those people who believes her family is a bunch of bumbling idiots, even though she’s the one who usually ends up with egg or her face. She seems to think her life really is an animated sitcom. And so it’s more than a little satisfying to see her so often humbled by the more realistic characters surrounding her.
Outside of the main family, there are a ton of spectacular side characters, from Mr. Fischoeder, the eccentric and filthy rich landlord of the family’s restaurant, to Gayle, Linda’s paranoid spinster sister. These and others throw the family into uncalled for situations where each has to use their natural talents to fix the problem. And since there’s such a variety to each member’s talents, you get to see each character be the hero from time to time.
In one episode, it will be Bob’s careful skepticism that saves the day.
In another, Louise’s grit will solve the problem.
Or Tina’s refusal to conform.
Or Gene’s pep and unpredictability.
Or Linda’s fearlessness and quick capacity to divert people’s attention.
Bob’s Burgers is a party of a show, full of people you want to be around and have a good time with. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of animated comedies but also sick of how homogenized and banal they have become. It’s got something for everyone and is full of life.
And perhaps the best part is the willingness the show has to occasionally shake things up and toss a joke out from left field. I don’t want to spoil too much, but everything from Disney’s Dumbo to My Neighbor Totoro gets lampooned in places throughout the series. And the faux-crossover with Archer was a wry nod to TV-watching audiences everywhere.
The first six seasons are on Netflix. Be sure to give it a watch.