Belcher Family Values: Is Bob's Burgers the Best Sitcom of 2016?

The animated show—which starts its seventh season on September 25—is just weird enough to be interesting and offers a surprisingly realistic and often hysterical view of modern family life

bob's burgers

(Photo: City)

In the crush of buzzy TV, it’s hard to decide what to commit precious downtime to—spend hours on a prestigious streaming show, tuck into a true crime doc or zone out with some Bachelor in Paradise shenanigans? (Multiple engagements? After three weeks?? How???)

It’s enough decision fatigue to make a girl give up on TV altogether. (JK, how would we live without it?)

But here’s the good news: you don’t need to watch hours of HBO’s thinkiest shows to feel like a patron of pop culture. Bob’s Burgers, the little cartoon that could, is so earnest, it’s hip. With weird-in-all-the-right-way characters and the coolest tweens on TV (sorry, Stranger Things), the Belchers have punned their way into our hearts. Herewith five reasons we heart Bob’s Burgers.

Bob's Burgers

We heart Tina (Photo: City)

Tina Belcher, Adolescent Icon
Like Lisa Simpson before her, Tina is the sensitive voice of reason in her family. Unlike Lisa, Tina is obsessed with writing “erotic friend fiction.” Sexuality is a huge part of Tina’s identity, and, in a refreshing twist, her folks Linda and Bob don’t shame her for it—vagina and virginity are not taboo talk in the Belcher household. With a monotone voice, calm exterior and a vivid interior world (populated by zombies, horses and boys, boys, boys), Tina is navigating the world with adult wants and child-like emotional abandon. Her amorous schemes (like using a romance novel as a “treasure map” to her crush’s affection), her indecisive moans and her complete disinterest in being popular makes her the coolest millennial internet hero since Tavi.

More to Love
Tandem binge-watching can be a burden—skipping ahead is a little like cheating (finding out that a partner watched Season 3, Episode 9 while you are stuck at work is like a dagger to the heart). Luckily Bob’s Burgers doesn’t require that kind of fidelity—even with over 100 episodes—so there’s no need to watch it episode-by-episode, season-by-season. Although there are inside jokes that add to the LOLs, no major plot points or spoilers will be ruined by episode hopping.

Less Money, Mo’ Problems
Too many of our childhood sitcoms glossed over the financial reality of working families (read: Full House had the Tanners living on multi-million dollar “Postcard Row” in San Francisco and the Walsh family moved into a charming Beverly Hills bungalow with *that* zip code). Like Dan and Roseanne Conner and Marge and Homer before them, the Belchers are firmly and unapologetically lower-middle-class, struggling to pay rent and keep their small burger business afloat. And it’s not quite a prize location: on one side, a mortuary; on the other, a constant rotation of stores that have included Moist Yoga and a methadone clinic (none last longer than an episode). The family doesn’t take lavish vacations or have nice things, and they even have to work holidays (like when Bob rented his family out to make some extra cash on Thanksgiving). Also rare for TV: pre-teens with hustle. Tina, Louise and their brother Gene learn about the power, and struggle, of being your own boss and the value of a hard-earned buck while helping out their parents at the restaurant.

Pun in A Bun
Part of the show’s nerdy charm is in the details, like the daily burger special board. The Belchers pun game is no joke—actually, it’s a series of jokes. Offerings range from patriotic (These Collards Don’t Run) to ’80s rock (Hit Me With Your Best Shallot) to festive (Santa Claus is Cumin to Town) to Canadian (Poutine on the Ritz). It’s like the New Yorker cartoon captions, but beefier. (Get it?!)

Old-sSchool Parenting in a Modern TV World
Tiger moms, helicopter parents, soccer dads…you won’t find these archetypes on Bob’s Burgers. Obsessive parenting isn’t exactly Bob and Linda’s style. They prefer a more laidback (but still loving) approach: Tina, Louise and Gene walk to school, go trick-or-treating without an adult, ride their bikes and have enough freedom to wander their neighbourhood, talk to strangers and act like little people instead of precious flowers. Instead of constant adult attachment, the kids get the space to form their own tiny world within the family unit, which is warmly nostalgic and wholly welcome.

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