It’s been a while since we’ve seen one of Tina’s zombie fantasies on Bob’s Burgers, so Tina’s butt touching three way with Jimmy Jr. and a rotting boy-zombie was a strong open for tonight’s episode, “Bad Tina.”
Considering how strange some of Tina’s interests are, it’s sometimes surprising how many people have told me that they see themselves (or their significant others) in Tina. I have a feeling that Tina’s full shelves of “Erotic Gossip Girl” and “Sexy 60 Minutes” fan fiction only made that connection to her all the stronger.
Even if you don’t see a little bit of yourself in awkward Tina, I think that everyone could relate in some way to the pressure she felt from Tammy. Unlike Tina, Tammy is loud, she isn’t intimidated by boys, she wears makeup, and she throws around catchy phrases. Tammy is manipulative, but stupid, and she’s willing to turn Tina’s world upside down when she doesn’t get her way.
Tammy’s bad influence put Tina into a number of questionable situations and although you could clearly see that Tina was becoming more and more uncomfortable with the things Tammy wanted her to do, she felt trapped. Like a normal teenager, Tina avoided talking to her parents about her problems and even gave them a heavy dose of attitude. Bob and Linda seemed perplexed by Tina’s personality change, but they were helpless until Tina was willing to talk.
I appreciated Linda’s two part reaction to Tina’s dilemma. Parents often struggle when they’ve got to figure out a way to encourage their kids to continue to do the things they love even if it means being teased. Linda’s gut reaction to Tina’s tears was to remind Tina that she had nothing to be ashamed of. Rather than advise Tina to give up erotic fan fiction, Linda told her to be proud of her creative abilities. As Linda was telling the story to Bob, the reality of judgmental school children set in and Linda remembered that not everyone would accept Tina’s hobbies the way the family does.
Linda hasn’t been at the center of many Bob’s Burgers episodes recently, but the bits I see of her every week absolutely slay me. Her “little baby” phrase has been popping up in every episode since she first sang about those porcelain babies a few weeks ago and it seriously makes me laugh uncontrollably every time she says it (in fact, my husband and I can’t stop using it on one another and our dog.)
Louise and Gene were the perfect peanut gallery for Tina’s wild night of rebellion with Tammy, Zeke and Jimmy Jr. and their commentary while hidden in Tina’s closet was hysterical. When Louise and Gene realized that Tina was being tormented by Tammy, their attitude changed from amusement to rage. “Messing with Tina is a privilege, not a right” could be the motto of any sibling relationship and I loved the way the Belcher kids joined together to back up their sister.
As unusual as Tina is, there are aspects of Tina’s personality and hobbies that fit a very specific real world mold. It’s not often that we see this kind of girl on TV, and while we might laugh at the way Tina talks about her interests, her hobbies are actually treated rather respectfully. We’re made to understand Tina’s love for zombies, horses, and fan fiction by seeing her joy in them. Tina never becomes the butt of a joke for simply loving these strange things. Instead of being treated like an outcast for her interests, we see Tina treated as a well loved daughter and sister who happens to be incredibly passionate about zombies and horses.
Tina’s amazing “Buttloose” erotic friend fiction tale of butt touching failed to inspire her classmates in the way she hoped it might, and as Bob and Linda had feared, her classmates laughed at her. What Tammy didn’t account for was that Louise and Gene would be right there for Tina, waiting to turn the tables as soon as there was an opening. Tina might have unknowingly thwarted her sibling’s backpack switching scheme, but Tammy’s fart laughing problem would always be a much easier target for kids like Gene and Louise.
There was a tiny side story about Bob and Linda going to “Cake,” a Stomp-like patty cake stage show. Bob had been groaning about going to the show, but once he was there, he instantly became a “Patty Daddy” fan. This didn’t end up being a significant part of the episode’s plot, but I have to say that I would totally be interested in a patty cake centered stage show and the little bits that did focus on Bob’s fandom were very funny.
Bob’s Burgers does a really incredible job with the episodes that center around the family. This episode was as much about Tina’s personal struggles with peer pressure as it was about how their family banded together to unconditionally back Tina. Of course, Bob’s Burgers manages to tell this kind of story with a nonstop barrage of brilliantly written laughs (I attempted to write out my favorite lines, but realized that I was essentially transcribing the entire episode.) By the end of episodes like “Bad Tina,” I feel as though I’ve spent an evening laughing with my favorite people. It’s not just funny, it’s funny with a heart.