My love affair with Bob’s Burgers started out slow. First, I would just watch an episode here, two episodes there with my boyfriend while he was binge-watching it. Completely out of order (for me). And then, he finished, and I found myself starting it from the beginning, on my own. I have long proclaimed that I hate animated TV shows. (For adults. I have nothing against Phineas and Ferb and the like. Who doesn't love Phineas and Ferb?!) I don't like the Simpsons, Family Guy, or South Park. For some reason they're all too crude, grating, and just plain ridiculous for me, and I am someone who thrives on crudeness. But Bob's Burgers is different. What I love about this show is that sure, it's silly, but the reason it's different (for me anyways) is that they're actually a really great family. They may be a little bit weird or stupid sometimes, but instead of making fun of each other, they just love and support each other. This show brings me so much joy because it features quintessential family values integrated with my particular brand of sarcastic, awkward humor.
Bob Belcher, for example, is a really great father who loves his kids and is passionate about his job even if it doesn't pay the best. (Or much of anything, really.) He doesn't have unrealistic expectations for his kids, doesn't put pressure on them to be what they're not, and teaches them through his actions that it's more important to be happy than to be rich.
Linda Belcher is a wonderful mother who encourages and loves her children no matter what. She's also a woman who feels the impending doom of aging, and yet she's never a stereotype. In an episode where it’s Linda’s birthday and she’s feeling the weight of getting older, in the end the message is— I’m getting older, but I’m getting better. I’m strong, and not getting weaker with age. I can still kick a tough day in the butt. And I think that's a pretty inspiring message to include in an animated television show.
Louise Belcher, the youngest of the Belcher kids, is a horrible, witty, sarcastic, biting person, that most 19 year olds I know can relate to more than any other character on television. She's also a nine year old girl who never takes off her pink bunny hat. Yet her sarcasm is only reserved for people who deserve it, and though we can always hear her tone of voice and assume she is being mean, when it is addressed at Tina, Gene, or any other member of her family, she is never serious. They don't get her bite. In a show with inferior writing, Louise would be incapable of love. (Because of course someone who is as sarcastic and witty as she wouldn't love their family.) But Louise is complex, and ultimately human. She loves her family and accepts them as they are, quirky flaws and all, because they in turn accept her abrasive tone and love her not in spite of it, but for it.
Gene Belcher both is and is not a normal 11 year old boy. He's obsessed with his fart keyboard, pranks, and puns (in much the same way as his dad is). Although there is pressure from society, though never from his family, to be more masculine and stereotypically male than he is, he never gives in. Tina Belcher, who is probably the most infamous and recognizable Bob's Burgers character, is a wonderfully hormonal thirteen year old girl who defies gender norms. She's boy crazy in a way that I believe is a step towards normalizing female sexuality, loves horses, and has an indifferent, deep, groaning tone of voice that makes it sound like everything she is asked to do it the most inconvenient thing in the world. She is essentially a modern day, female Eeyore, and she's also an overachiever. She gives a more realistic voice to the kid I (and many of my friends) were in high school. Tina raises her hand first but doesn't have the high pitched, spirited voice that her stereotypical counterparts have. But that doesn't mean she's not passionate. She's real.