Having spent the last two months devouring the first two seasons of Bob’s Burgers, I feel safe in declaring it the dark horse of Fox’s Animation Domination lineup. It’s gentler than its animated brethren like The Simpsons and Family Guy, but it’s also quirkier. The series treats us to the ongoing adventures of the Belcher family, a zany bunch who run a burger restaurant. The family consists of Bob, the owner of the restaurant and the family’s patriarch, his enthusiastic wife Linda, and their three children–Tina, Gene and Louise,the deceptively cute moppet who seems destined to be some sort of criminal mastermind.
The series has slowly been gaining critical and fan attention, and now that its third season has started it seems poised to finally become the hit it has always deserved to be. That means now is a great time to get hooked, and I know at least five episodes that will get the job done.
Bob’s Burgers has gotten a lot of mileage out of the rivalry between Bob and Jimmy Pesto, the pompous owner of the Italian restaurant directly across the street from Bob’s place. The duo’s antagonistic relationship was the driving force behind the best episode to date, season two’s “Burgerboss.”
In the episode, Bob buys a classic arcade game for the restaurant and becomes outraged when Jimmy beats his high score using the username BOB SUX. Thus begins Bob’s obsession with beating the score to clear the leaderboard of Jimmy’s mocking username. His quest is complicated by Linda, who gives the game to the local arcade because she’s afraid for her husband’s sanity. This only prompts Bob to start spending all of his time at the arcade where he meets a young gamer voiced by Parks and Recreation‘s Aziz Ansari.
The kids get in on the action too since Bob can’t get in the arcade without children, and they end up crashing a never ending stream of children’s birthday parties while their dad is busy playing Burgerboss. Bob’s fixation on the game builds to a surreal climax involving 8-bit animation and a grown man chasing some bullying teenagers down the street.
Why it will get you hooked: “Burgerboss” is clever, hilarious and it features Bob fighting off imaginary chicken legs. If this one doesn’t hook you, nothing will.
As voiced by Kristen Schaal, Louise is always a standout character, but thanks to her sociopath leanings, it’s easy to forget that she’s actually just a little girl. “Spaghetti Western and Meatballs” allows Louise to show off her softer side, while also tapping into the show’s family sitcom roots. Louise becomes distressed when Gene and Bob begin hanging out without her to watch a series of spaghetti westerns about a cowboy named Banjo, and begins acting out in hopes of returning their attention to her. I won’t lie, I found the resolution to the story so affecting I got a little teary.
Why it will get you hooked: Make no mistake, Bob’s Burgers revels in its weirdness when appropriate, but it’s just as good at delivering stories that are heartwarming (without the schmaltz usually associated with that phrase). “Spaghetti Western and Meatballs” showcases the show’s down to earth side, and it will give you an excellent idea of how the family relates to one another.
Bob takes advantage of a hostage situation at a bank across the street in order to get free advertising for his restaurant. Do you really need to hear more? Fine. Louise befriends the robber and terrifies the cop in charge of hostage negotiations, the cops are forced to form a human shield for the robber’s amusement and at one point the entire family latches on to Bob to physically prevent him from delivering burgers to the bank.
Why it will get you hooked: See above. It’s a zany half hour that never once lets up on the laughs.
The kids are quite possibly the show’s greatest asset. I’ve already mentioned Louise, but Gene and Tina are every bit as entertaining. They all three get a chance to shine in “Weekend at Mort’s” when the family spends the weekend at the crematorium next door to the restaurant. Things get crazy when Louise attempts to convince her big brother and sister that there are zombies in the crematorium (an idea that initially thrills Tina, who harbors a bit of a zombie fetish). Her antics have unintentional (but hilarious) consequences for Bob.
Why it will get you hooked: If you’re okay with your humor erring on the side of morbidity, then this is the perfect episode for you.
If “Spaghetti Western and Meatballs” is Bob’s Burgers at its most normal, then “Art Crawl” is Bob’s Burgers at its most bizarre. When Linda’s sister comes to town for the annual art crawl, Linda and Bob agree to let her display her artwork in the restaurant. What they don’t realize is that the artwork in question features animal butts. Lots and lots of animal butts. The word “anus” is uttered many times in this episode.
“Art Crawl” is kind of nuts, but it’s nuts in a lovable way–just like Bob’s Burgers itself.
Why it will get you hooked: This is the episode most critics call the show’s turning point. It’s a fearlessly original outing and on a more superficial level it happens to feature one of my personal favorite Burgers of the day: the Poblano Picasso.
I hope my list will inspire you to try out the show if you haven’t already. If you’re already a fan, which episodes would you recommend to potential new viewers? Share your suggestions in the comments.
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