Bob’s Burgers : Season 12
Might contain spoilers.
I’ve been happily watching Bob’s Burgers for around 10 years now. Like Archer (which also stars H. Jon Benjamin) and, once upon a time, Rick and Morty , it’s a cherished comfort I miss whenever it’s not on. I vehemently disagree with Paste Magazine’s claim that the show is running on fumes: it’s more accurately described as having reached a pleasant equilibrium. I enjoy these short digressions into a world filled with awkward, endearing, and usually dysfunctional people; I don’t need anything to change.
It’s not perfect, I’ll give you that. I dislike the predilection for toilet humour (like the discussion about Linda farting) or the occasional obsession with nauseating subjects (like toe fungus, or the exposed musculature of the aliens Louise and Gene imagine in ‘Interview with a Pop-pop-pire’). It’s a rare treat when an episode is just fun and amusing from start to finish, like the enjoyable ‘Crystal Mess’.
In addition, as much as the lack of competence of the characters is a key part of its charm, Bob and Linda’s immaturity and laissez-faire parenting style are taken to grating extremes at times, with their children appearing spoiled and badly behaved. In ‘A-Sprout a Boy’, for instance, it’s unclear why Bob doesn’t simply tell Gene to drop the game and attend to his greens, or why Linda quietly accepts that Tina and Louise are skimming change from the shop to go off and do something secret. (It’s funny that she guesses they chugged all the milk so they’d have to go again, though.)
I’ll also admit that Gene’s and Linda’s stories tend to be the least engaging. The former’s section of ‘Gene’s Christmas Break’, to take one example, left me unmoved. On the other hand, although Linda’s attempt to go to the new hairdresser in ‘Seven-tween Again’ is hardly innovative, even explicitly returning to the status quo at the end, Gene’s concurrent fear of growing up is unusually compelling, and the whole episode is well executed.
The best instalment in a long time is the first half of the finale, ‘Some Like It Bot Part 1: Eighth Grade Runner’, with its believable conflict, clever Blade Runner spoof (down to the music), and sad song. Unfortunately, the competent-but-unremarkable ‘Some Like It Bot Part 2: Judge-bot Day’ isn’t of the same calibre. I hope the upcoming movie is more like Part 1.
Of the Belchers, my favourites are easily Louise, with her appetite for destruction—
drill, just sleeping with the saw then—and Bob, with his penchant for imaginary
conversations—witness his commitment to the imagined argument with the food he covers up in
‘Stuck in the Kitchen with You’—and obsessive behaviour. My very favourite character,
though, would have to be the endlessly hilarious Teddy, notwithstanding his entitled and obnoxious
behaviour over the Belchers receiving a package for him in ‘A-Sprout a Boy’; Larry
Murphy has only to make the slightest sound to set me off. Bobby Tisdale has a similar effect on me
There’s no end to the pleasingly odd characters of the show, whether it’s the gnome guy and the
intense princesses in ‘Manic Pixie Crap Show’, the returning Mickey, Babysitter Jen and
Christopher the notary, or Millie, who makes me laugh again and again—she, Louise, and Rudy make a
superb trio that I’d love to see more of. There are just a few characters who benefit from being
used sparingly. For example, Gale and Gretchen are both humorous characters in small doses; it’s no
surprise that Linda would rather spend time with Ginger on her own in ‘Clear and Present
Ginger’. Speaking of which, the way Louise says they should slap each other after Nat wins
in the same episode is funny enough on its own, but Bob thoughtfully saying,
I’ll take one
made me guffaw.
Some of the ending sequences are a joy to behold. There’s Teddy building the bed for Louise, for
example, or Mr. Fischoeder playing the piano and singing, all accompanied by dancing. Another rare
pleasure is Bob being properly shaken: I giggled at him deciding the customer in ‘Video Killed
the Gene-io Star’ had to be a serial killer based on the walnut-filled suitcase, and the
Pretty sure we were just in the presence of death that came later had me gasping
I’m embarrassed to admit it took me this long to realize H. Jon Benjamin voices Ms. LaBonz as well. It’s bad enough that I only realized he’s Jimmy Jr. a couple of years ago. He’s pretty good at voicing all the different kinds of food, too.
The one thing I’ve never been able to reconcile with the general good nature of the show is just how many female characters are voiced by men. I understand that the cross-gender performances have a different kind of merit, but I can’t help feeling it takes away opportunities from women.