Over the past few years, Fox has dished out a smorgasbord of new shows, each running the gamut of sloppy to tasteless, but in the midst of this mess comes a perfect, delicious entree, Bob’s Burgers (I’ll stop with the food metaphors now).
Bobs Burgers is about a man named, you guessed it, Bob who runs a burger restaurant in a city that may as well be anywhere. He has a loving-yet-cloying wife named Linda who has the most nasal voice on television since Edith from All in the Family. Together, they have three children, Tina, a girl definitely going through an awkward phase, Gene, a kind-hearted reprobate, and Louise, a sharp-witted prankster who’s most likely smarter than her older siblings.
So far, Bob’s Burgers has completed two seasons, both much shorter than they should have been. Season 1 was 13 episodes, while season 2 was a mere 9. Thankfully, Fox made an uncharacteristically wise decision to renew the show for a much-anticipated third season.
If you haven’t seen the show at all, you’re in luck: all of season 1 is available for streaming on Netflix (if you don’t have Netflix, there’s a DVD too). The first season is solid, start to finish. The first episode hits the ground running with a ridiculous premise. By coincidence, Bob’s restaurant is located next to a morgue, and in a twist out of Sweeney Todd, the customers come to believe human flesh goes into the burgers Bob serves. In the second episode “Crawlspace,” Bob hides in an actual crawlspace located in his apartment simply to avoid his proselytizing mother-in-law, a plan that ends up backfiring as he becomes trapped for several days, leading to a hilarious moment where Bob visits a ghostly bar a la The Shining.
From there, the episodes start to have more ordinary plotlines, but that doesn’t mean they are any less funny.
The great thing about Bob’s Burgers is that it represents a return to situation-based humor and quotable dialogue. I love Family Guy as much as anyone, but once Seth McFarlane started up three shows + a movie, his tangential humor became pretty threadbare. Bob’s Burgers is all about clever writing; even when the jokes are low-brow they are executed in a way that’s so perfectly timed that it makes even Gene’s fart jokes seem like comic genius.
The voice cast is like a who’s-who of true comedic actors, including H. Jon Benjamin as Bob (from the show Jon Benjamin Has a Van and Archer), Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords and The Daily Show) and Andy Kindler (a judge from Last Comic Standing).
I’d like to also point out something that might go unnoticed by many viewers: the animation is fantastic. A lot of other cartoons on right now treat the animation as purely functional, but Bob’s Burgers makes it more of an art. First off, the color scheme is more vibrant than anything else on TV (even Adventure Time uses darker shades), and second, the backgrounds are well-drawn and feature a nice added touch: shadows.
If you haven’t watched Bob’s Burges yet, then stream it on Netflix ASAP. If you’re a cheapskate, sign up for a free preview of Netflix and watch season 1 (I bet you can finish it in 2 days). To see other episodes, check out hulu.
I don’t care how you watch it, just watch it!
—-Oh and if you tire from TV, read my book The Madness of Art: Short Stories.
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What was your opinion of Bobs Burgers Season 1?