FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (25)
March 25, 2021
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite animated TV series.
BOB’S BURGERS | LOREN BOUCHARD | 2011–PRESENT
A Bob is a regular guy. He’s American, first off, and he doesn’t put on airs — there’s no high-fallutin’ Roberting for him. Your typical Robert is a different man altogether. They may have the same thing written on their birth certificates, but after that, at some point, they diverge. A select few Bobbys turn into Roberts, such as among the Kennedys. But your average Bobby turns into a Bob. Never the twain shall meet.
The basic Bob is working class, solid, reliable, and often jovial, though you can also find an unreliable Bob here or there. Possibly selling cars or insurance. A flimsy Bob who uses his Bobness as a foil. Still, you’d be hard put to find a more quintessentially trustworthy American moniker.
So, too, with the burger — a classic, über-American foodstuff. (So American I hesitated to even put the umlaut on “uber” right there.) Traditionally made of mushed-up cow, easy to cook, round, greasy, unhealthy, unpretentious. What does a Bob eat? A burger, of course.
In Bob’s Burgers, simply and brilliantly named, we have a double shot of American archetype.
And in the venerable tradition of U.S. sitcoms that celebrate and/or poke fun at the working family, Bob’s Burgers is hands-down my favorite. Partly because it’s well conceived and written and excellently voice acted. Partly because it manages to be edgy, with its sex-crazed Tina and scatological, drama queen Gene, but still nostalgic: the whole family pitches in to sustain their restaurant business, with the kids grumbling but finally upholding a certain, increasingly quaint notion of filial duty.
But mostly because of the gentleness and intelligence of its namesake father.
Sure, Bob has the some of the curmudgeonly qualities of the blunt object known as Homer Simpson. Along with a dose of the wage-slave poignancy of Hank in King of the Hill, since money, in Bob’s Burgers, is always tight. But unlike Homer and Hank he’s also a self-aware and thoughtful presence, with strong moral fiber and a devotion to his wife and children that’s humble, authentic, and nearly utopian.
For Bob isn’t upwardly mobile. His competition in the marketplace is almost nonexistent, despite a longstanding rivalry with Jimmy Pesto, his neighboring restaurateur across the street who, unlike Bob, has designs on social prizes like yacht-club membership. Bob has no such ambitions. He’s resigned to a kind of economic stasis that rejects the maximization of profits in favor of what he loves.
Unlike American dads, especially in live-action sitcoms, whose striving is constantly stymied by the burden of family in what we’re often asked to see as a form of middle-class male martyrdom, Bob adores his work as well his family. He doesn’t need his business to expand. He cherishes his grill as an artist might cherish a brush or palette or particular color of paint. Bob has troubles and worries, as all of us do. But Bob also knows contentment.
What Bob wants to do is this: keep his family happy and safe. Be a decent citizen. And make good burgers.
Bob has found his calling.
FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: SERIES INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Miranda Mellis on STEVEN UNIVERSE | Luc Sante on TOP CAT | Peggy Nelson on PINK PANTHER | Charlie Mitchell on COWBOY BEBOP | Mimi Lipson on THE FLINTSTONES | Sam Glenn on BIG MOUTH | Mandy Keifetz on ROAD RUNNER | Ramona Lyons on SHE-RA | Holly Interlandi on DRAGON BALL Z | Max Glenn on ADVENTURE TIME | Joe Alterio on REN & STIMPY | Josh Glenn on SPEED RACER | Adam McGovern on KIMBA THE WHITE LION | Jonathan Pinchera on SAMURAI JACK | Lynn Peril on JONNY QUEST | Stephanie Burt on X-MEN THE ANIMATED SERIES and X-MEN: EVOLUTION | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on THE JETSONS | Adam Netburn on NARUTO | Madeline Ashby on AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER | Tom Nealon on TRANSFORMERS | Sara Ryan on BOJACK HORSEMAN | Michael Grasso on COSMIC CLOCK | Erin M. Routson on BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD | Deborah Wassertzug on DARIA | Lydia Millet on BOB’S BURGERS.
NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2021): RAIN | ARDUIN | SEINFELD | MAP INSERTS | TIME | & 20 other nerdy passions. SWERVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2021): WARHOL’S WALT WHITMAN | 70, GIRLS, 70 | TYRAEL’S MIGHT | SHIRATO SANPEI | THE LEON SUITES | & 20 other never-realized cultural productions. FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2021): DARK SHADOWS | MANNIX | GET SMART | THE ADDAMS FAMILY | I DREAM OF JEANNIE | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) TV shows. FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2021): STEVEN UNIVERSE | TOP CAT | REN & STIMPY | SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER | DRAGON BALL Z | & 20 other animated series. CARBONA YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2020): “Sex Bomb” | “Going Underground” | “Soft South Africans” | “Typical Girls” | “Human Fly” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) punk singles. KLAATU YOU (2020 weekly): ZARDOZ | METROPOLIS | DARK STAR | SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | SOLARIS | & dozens of other pre-STAR WARS sci-fi movies. CONVOY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2019): THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE | ROLLERBALL | BLACK SUNDAY | SORCERER | STRAIGHT TIME | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) action movies. SERIOCOMIC (2019 weekly): LITTLE LULU | VIZ | MARSUPILAMI | ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | HELLBOY | & dozens of other comics. TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2018): LOONEY TUNES | THREE STOOGES | THE AVENGERS | ROCKY & BULLWINKLE | THE TWILIGHT ZONE | & 20 other Fifties (1954–1963) TV shows. WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads. GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) new wave singles. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other Thirties (1934–1943) fantasy novels. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.