bob’s burgers’ lovable weirdos
It is only on “Bob’s Burgers” that a hamburger goes between two puns. My roommate first introduced me to the show because she thought I would appreciate its sense of humor. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m always grateful she did. This is a show that celebrates weirdos, great and terrible jokes, and cheeseburgers: all things I hold close to my heart.
I say weirdos in the most loving way, because the characters on “Bob’s Burgers” are so distinctly hilarious that I would never be able to choose a favorite. “Bob’s Burgers,” for those of you not yet in the club, is the name of a restaurant (more honestly, what Guy Fieri would probably call a “dive”) owned by Bob Belcher, hard-working patriarch of the Belcher family. H. Jon Benjamin, the same voice of the titular character on “Archer,” voices Bob. For those of you, myself included, who started watching “Archer” before the Belchers came to town, the voice of the suave and self-centered spy emanating from the chubby, hairy, and well-meaning Bob is an initial shock. But over the course of five seasons, I’ve learned to love Bob and his burgers. And his puns: there’s an entire Tumblr devoted to Bob’s Burger of the Day, his own quest to celebrate the burger as an art form, writing a different name on the chalkboard of the restaurant each episode. My personal favourite: Let’s Give ‘Em Something Shiitake ‘Bout Burger.
Linda is Bob’s wife. She has an unabashed love for breaking out into song, Tom Selleck, and her family. Linda’s songs are some of the most consistently funny moments on the show, with her Thanksgiving song from the season 3 Thanksgiving episode—“kill, kill, kill, kill the turkey!”—becoming so popular that indie rock band The National did their own cover of it. Linda has some of the most amazing lines of the show, but even better she is unfailingly optimistic, and revels in the oddballs who make up her family.
Gene, Louise, and Tina are the three Belcher kids, and the three of them committing shenanigans together is “Bob’s Burgers” at its best. Gene, middle child, lover of all food, somehow manages to be both naive and full of wisdom: “Why would I be horny? I’m not an antelope!” Louise is diabolical and hilarious, and usually the cause of the problem in a given episode: In the first episode of the series, Louise convinces the town that Bob is serving human meat in his burgers. Louise is also the character through whom we experience the revelations in growing up—getting her first crush, starting her first underground casino—but she and Gene are the best celebrations of what being a kid is like. Tina, voiced in the driest and so-strange-it-works way by definite male Dan Mintz, is probably the weirdest character on the show, but she’s also probably the most relevant. Tina is a celebration of the awkward, bumbling mess of hormones that is being a teenager, and it is a testament to Tina’s success as a character that her self-proclaimed love of butts and erotic friend fiction makes perfect sense. Tina may be the best example of the show’s ability to take the supposed weirdness of these characters and turn it right back on the viewer, so that we may find ourselves in them. But the characters are easy to relate to in a way that isn’t overblown or self-conscious: the Belchers are just hilarious and weird and true. And they make mistakes, just like everybody else. As Tina says, “I’m no hero. I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else.”
“Bob’s Burgers” also boasts a series of memorable supporting characters, and some big names as their voices. Aziz Ansari voices Darryl, a video game enthusiast; Jenny Slate is popular girl Tammy, making Tina the manager of her bat mitzvah in one episode; and Sarah Silverman and her sister voice the twin sons of Bob’s archrival Jimmy Pesto, who owns the successful pizza restaurant across the street. Ollie and Andy Pesto are inseparable twins, verging on incestuous, but presented as so earnest and childlike that it all makes sense in the spirit of the show.
But the best thing about “Bob’s Burgers” is the Belcher family: in the end, it is their show. They are the ones we celebrate, and they are the ones who celebrate the teenager angst or neighbor rivalry or love of Tom Selleck that we’ve all harbored. Every member of the family is funny in his or her own right, but when they come together is when the show really shines. It is a show that always makes me crave a cheeseburger, and simultaneously want to hug every member of my own odd and awesome family. I know the moment I fell in love with the show was when I loved each character for everything that made them funny and strange and human. I knew when, as Tina so eloquently puts it, “My heart just pooped its pants.”