March 26, 2014

TBT | Cartoon Nostalgists, Meet Bob’s Burgers

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For a few years, I had really thought that “good” cartoons were a highlight of the past. Ashamedly, I’ll admit I’m part of the generation of now 20-somethings still nostalgic for the golden age of Nicktoons, back when life was told by Ginger and child celebrities still drew mouse ears with a big glowing stick in the corner of the screen on Disney Channel. I could argue all day about how T.V. was “so much better” back then, but I won’t go on that biased tangent, because the Internet has probably fleshed it out pretty well for everyone at this point; thanks, Reddit. That being said, there are those few tried and true shows of the late 90s early 00s, of the Spongebob and Family Guy variety, currently running that seem to feebly give us that last sliver of animated hope and wistfulness for funnier, more colorful days. I’ve tried my hand at the new generation of Cartoon Network, Nick, Adult Swim, etc., finding fleeting entertainment in Phineas and Ferb and maybe Adventure Time. Still, I’ve been unsatisfied on Sunday mornings, sick of rewatching the Bubble Buddy episode of Spongebob for the 20th time, fiending for something new, for characters equally as mindless, weird and hilarious as the Arnolds, Dougs and Kim Possibles of the past.

Then came the glorious day that a friend introduced me to the wonderfully weird world of Bob’s Burgers, and suddenly came the redemption of my cartoon experience. Aired on Fox, the show is a nice reprieve from the sometimes cringingly explicit world of Family Guy and American Dad. Based around the life of the Belcher Family, who own and run a burger restaurant somewhere in (my best guess) New England, Bob’s Burgers tends to pry the edge of crude comedy only occasionally, making it one suitable for viewers of most ages (in a you-didn’t-catch-the-sexual-innuendo-in-all-those-Disney-movies sort of way). The day-to-day lives of Bob and Linda Belcher and their three kids Gene, Louise and Tina consist mostly of the kids’ hilariously innocent views and misunderstanding of mature topics and their eldest sibling Tina’s budding puberty. Dabbling lightly in the somewhat awkward, but delightfully genuine, concerns of the whole family, episode plots range from Tina’s first boy/girl birthday and Gene’s little league team, to vegetarian protesters and Linda’s sex-obsessed sister who paints pictures of animal anuses. Character nuances such as Tina’s obsession with butts and writings of “erotic friend fiction” exemplify the show’s tasteful handling of juvenile topics in such a way that is neither annoyingly immature nor overly raunchy. The animated family comes across as laughably genuine, a sincere throwback to childhood and your own strange family dynamics.

If you’ve still retained your first grade sense of humor and you’re bored of re-watching the toons of two decades ago, give Bob’s Burgers a try. I promise you’ll get a few laughs, if just an embarrassed chuckle or a stupid funny giggle, and the Belcher family will have you feeling like maybe every other American household is just as weird as you thought yours is (even if they’re animated). Happy Netflixing!

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