Good news, fans of the Belcher family! The season five premiere of Bob’s Burgers is as delightfully quirky and funny as other seasons of the show. For those who aren’t devotees of the show, Bob’s Burgers centers around restaurant owner Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin), his wife Linda (John Roberts), and their three children, Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal). The show, created by Loren Bouchard (known for cult animated show Home Movies) premiered in 2011 and began its fifth season on Oct. 4 2014.
Before delving into the latest episode, it’s important to note the odd place that Bob’s Burgers occupies in broadcast television. When I first discovered the show, I expected to hate it. I thought it was going to be just another FOX animated show about a fat guy and his family. The Simpsons has settled into predictable mediocrity, Family Guy’s offensive middle-school humor has grown tiresome, and American Dad is Family Guy’s stranger, weaker cousin. These aren’t necessarily the worst shows on television, but there’s nothing exciting or original about them anymore. Bob’s Burgers rises above its neighbors because of its bizarre humor and honest sincerity.
Simply put, it’s more human and believable than its cartoon companions. While it contains the same absurd plot lines of an animated show, such as robotic toilets, bizarre hostage situations and mythical creatures, it tackles them with a warm humanity. The truly wonderful thing about the show is the genuinely positive feelings that the characters have for one another. They argue and clash with each other like any other family, but the bickering is not the primary focus of the show.
The show’s standout character is Bob’s teenage daughter, Tina, who, despite the fact that she is voiced by a 33 year-old man, is one of the most accurate representations of a teenage girl that I’ve ever seen in an animated television show. She’s sweet, smart, vulnerable, romantic, confident and ultimately, human. She gets some of the show’s most memorable quotes (“My heart just pooped its pants” and “Your ass is grass, and I’m gonna mow it” are personal favorites), and her erotic fantasies are one of the show’s best running jokes. She might be the show’s weirdest character, but the fact that she is proud of her awkward nature and pubescent sexuality is what allows her to be seen as a three-dimensional character rather than just a punch line for the other characters to mock (looking at you, Family Guy).
The newest episode contains a plot only Bob’s Burgers could pull off: a competition between two rival middle school musicals, both themed around hit movies from the 1980s. When Gene becomes frustrated that his musical adaptation of Die Hard is rejected in favor of his ex-girlfriend Courtney’s musical adaptation of Working Girl, he decides to stage it in the school’s hidden boiler room. While the episode is rooted in pop culture references, it is still enjoyable even if you aren’t familiar with the two films being adapted. The episode’s best joke goes to Louise, who responds to her father’s statement “Working Girl’s the film that inspired me to be anything I wanted to be!” by quipping “And so you’re this?” Overall, the episode moves at a comfortable pace, and while it’s not the funniest episode, it’s a solid premiere that reaffirms Bob’s Burgers status as the best animated show on television.
To those who haven’t seen the show, the first three seasons are on Netflix Instant View. Also worth noting is that in the next episode of the fifth season, Tina falls in love with a ghost. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.