Stuff I Like: Bob's Burgers
Image courtesy of IMDB.com
The family sitcom has come a long way from the days of "The Cosby Show" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." While a lot of these more modern shows can be funny, the tendency these days is to mock the family dynamic and push the boundaries of traditional relationships. Characters are less real people we can relate to and more archetypes for us to frame political or ideological arguments. It's a rare show where the characters make you love them for the sake of being genuinely lovable.
That's what makes "Bob's Burgers" such a great television show. Sure, it's funny and endlessly clever. Sure, the animation is quirky. But the real heart of the show is that the show has heart. There's a genuine kindness to not only the protagonists but the whole world of the show. Every character, no matter how small, feels like you're seeing a slice of a real (albeit incredibly quirky) person. What's more, the Belcher family is treated with respect by the show's creators. They can be annoying, rude, and silly, but at no point does the audience get the idea that the show is mocking them for it. Instead, we are invited into this family to be part of all the fart jokes and snarky banter to see the love underneath. Bob and Linda, especially, have one of the greatest married relationships I've ever seen on television. There's none of the annoying tropes of the gossiping, know-it-all wife and the dimwit husband that make modern sitcoms so trite. Even when they're making fun of each other, it springs from an obvious place of love that takes the bite out of it and lets us laugh as part of the family. It's that love, both that the characters show each other and that the writers show their characters, that makes Bob's Burgers truly something special.
For those who haven't seen the show, it centers around Bob Belcher and his family as they struggle to run their little family restaurant (the titular "Bob's Burgers"). Bob is a stoic, hardworking family man who has a true passion for his craft. His wife, Linda, is dramatic and bursts into song at the slightest excuse. Their three children (Tina, Gene, and Louise) are energetic and cause all kinds of mischief while working at the restaurant. It's a basic enough premise, but the show goes out of its way to make sure that you care about the characters and the plots often take common tropes and use them in unpredictable ways. The show's creators obviously love their characters and their world and fill it with all kinds of creative touches (like the different pun-themed exterminator trucks that populate the opening sequence of each episode).
Bob's Burgers is also unique in that it presents a very libertarian view of the world. Everyone has their own quirks, and Bob and his family avoid being judgmental of the weirdos that populate their town. If there is a "villain" in any sense, it's the government represented by health inspector Hugo who has made it his personal mission to shut Bob's Burgers down. But even Hugo is treated like a human being (and his partner, Ron, is actually a pretty cool guy). The core of "Bob's Burgers" is a man who runs his own business with integrity and tries to do what is best for his family. Bob Belcher is not the hero we deserved but the hero we needed. "Bob's Burgers" airs Sunday nights on FOX, and you can catch up on past seasons on Hulu. It's well worth your time.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of "Stuff I Like." If you have a suggestion for something you think I would like, be sure to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for the mailing list so you can get my blog posts sent directly to your inbox and stay caught up on all the exciting developments on TheBenSchafer.com. I'll be back next Thursday with a new "Stuff I Like."