The best Bob’s Burgers episodes take turns at delving into the deep end of the absurd and the surreal. The tirades launched by the show are always grounded by a big-hearted approach on family and growing pains. It almost has no shame in portraying the Belcher kids – Tina, Gene, and Louise – as the most developed characters in the show. The last two seasons have seen husband and wife Bob and Linda defend their burger joint against the perils of small-sized business. At the same time, they cram their hijinks into their own narrow spectrum: Bob with his inexhaustible competitive nature and Linda with her soft spot for practically anything, even for illegal activities and her children’s tantrums.
It’s hard to distill the Belchers’ blend of humor, precisely because it’s hard to dole out one-liners without the proper context. Most comedies resort to the quotable effect, an easy route to turn everything viral. But the show’s affable center of attraction, Tina, had made rounds on newsfeeds via a melange of gifs, all beloved for her sheer audacity and pint-sized awkwardness. Bob’s early seasons mined her charm, attracting practically the whole Internet with her gospel of gracelessness. “We can make this work. We can work out a dating wheel, just like a chore wheel,” Tina tells the boys fighting over her, swaying on the dance floor, then proceeding to place her hands on their butts—the body part essential to Tina’s boy fixation. “Let’s put the ‘try’ in triangle.” There are also episodes where she dates a ghost, tries to seduce their family dentist, showcases her erotic fan fiction of almost every popular film and TV show on the planet (Erotic Lord of the Rings, Erotic Law and Order, etc.), and skitters away with a horde of zombies who are enticed by her beauty.
But the show has recently veered away from the Tina train and into Louise’s maniacal trappings. Undoubtedly, Louise is the key element of the show’s oddball humor. Her streaks of manipulation and low-key violence (she threatened to have a kid’s ear sliced off by a motorcycle gang just because she can) is the counterpoint to the show’s familial verve, the right hand of evil to Tina’s hypersexualized youth. Louise is Bob’s Burgers most watchable send-off into youthful anarchy, that place where we can comfortably rest before facing the relentless ills of the real world.