A few people have asked me recently why I love Bob’s Burgers. So I thought I’d write about it.
I don’t generally like animated shows. The only cartoon I used to watch with any commitment was The Simpsons. I hate slapstick comedy, I hate sexist and racist jokes, I hate anything overly gross or infantile, so that rules out most of what’s on TV.
It wasn’t instant adoration. I watched a couple episodes with a sort of “meh – at least it’s not actively offensive” response.
It was Tina who really started to change my mind. She got under my skin. The first line I ever heard her say was “This man cave is deep – and I’m goin’ spelunking.’ She had me in tears.
She’s arguably the star of the show – definitely the most wellknown, oft-quoted character. When I was doing research to write this, most of what I found was about her, including a pretty good article about why she can be considered a ‘budding feminist.’
I don’t agree with everything in that article (I think mostly it’s just an excuse to use a lot of great gifs, because Tina has the best one-liners), but it has some good points. I don’t think just Tina is feminist – I think the whole show is.
I’m no expert but evaluating if things (shows, books, even conversations) are feminist kind of comes down to one thing for me: Does this make my hackles rise? Do I want to yell at it? Do I want to post it on Twitter so everyone can get as mad about it as I am? If the answer to these things is no, then it might be feminist. Because non-feminist things pretty much always make me furious – if I notice them, and I don’t always because I don’t know everything and this shit is socialised to all heck – but I trust my gut reaction.
Like I said, the humour in Bob’s Burgers isn’t offensive – most of the time. Sometimes, they get it wrong. There’s an episode where trans* women feature and yeah they pretty much screw that up, according to these people. (TW on that link). Which is a real shame, because in a lot of ways they are really good at questioning gender roles and sexuality and a whole bunch of things that usually end up the butt of jokes in these kinds of shows.
I like their deadpan voices. I like the love their family shows to each other. I like how Tina is obsessed with butts and boys and writing erotic friend fiction. I like how Louise is pretty much a homicidal maniac hiding in an adolescent body.
I really like the expression of anxiety through Tina. I don’t get the sense it’s just “normal” teenage angst – though I’m sure that’s at play. Every time she expresses concern I feel the deep pang of a kindred spirit. In the episode Tina-Wrannosaurus Wrecks, Bob lets her drive the car in a parking lot. From the moment she gets behind the wheel she emits a low, continuous moan to express how uncomfortable she is. As the tension of the situation increases, the moan becomes high pitched, repetitive yelps. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” like a startled hyena. This is often how I wish I could react when I feel anxious. I laughed til I cried.
I think that’s really the key to this show. It’s relatable. It’s a far-out premise, in many ways, but the characters individually are real. They way they relate to each other is real, the way they react to different situations is real. We like to see ourselves. I don’t know how many posts I’ve seen of people saying: “OMG. Tina Belcher is me!” but it’s a lot.
Here’s some reasons why.
So, yeah. I recommend it.
12 Signs Tina Belcher is a Budding Feminist (Bustle.com)
Bob’s Burgers, Gender, and Sexuality (The last womens’ magazine)
Putting the ‘fun’ back in ‘functional‘ (Macleans)
Transphobia on Bobs’s Burgers – (TW on this blog)