There was a lot about Gene’s dramatic love life in this week’s episode of Bob’s Burgers that reminded me of Loren Bouchard and Brendon Small’s Adult Swim series, Home Movies in that “The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene” tackled several real world relationship pitfalls from the unfiltered perspective of an 11-year-old.
Overwhelmed by the pressures of girls staring and questions about “like-like” feelings, Gene was just too nice to flat out reject Courtney Wheeler. Gene puts up with Courtney despite all of her obnoxious habits because he’s a generally good kid who knows that he’s supposed to be nice to the other kids in his class. Like most kids his age, no adult had probably ever prepared him for a scenario where he’d have to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.
Even Bob and Linda doubted Gene, Louise, and Tina’s assertions that Courtney Wheeler was the most annoying creature roaming the face of the Earth and they were excited by the news of Gene’s new relationship status. By all accounts, the kids’ assessment of Courtney was spot on and as the episode progressed, Courtney’s necklace slurping and strange breathing was driving me up the wall. Bob’s “oh my god” moment in the car while Courtney was kicking his seat might have been the most expressive, perfectly timed “oh my god” in the history of Bob saying “oh my god” (and he happens to say it quite a lot on Bob’s Burgers.)
At this point, the whole family was supporting Gene in his quest to break up with Courtney but three hours of training with his dedicated sisters couldn’t have prepared him for the challenge he faced at Courtney’s house. Mr. Wheeler was living Gene’s dream and making a living writing jingles. Putting up with Courtney was a small price to pay to get his foot in the door with “the music biz.”
When Courtney steals Gene’s spotlight during his solo at her birthday party, he snaps and completely loses it. Courtney’s delicate heart can’t handle the stress and she ends up spending her birthday in the hospital where Gene agonizes over whether his harsh words might have sent her to her grave. Bob’s Burgers has its dark moments, but I was really caught off guard when Courtney’s heart monitor flat-lined. It seemed much more grim than Bob’s Burgers is usually willing to go, so I was relieved to see that it wasn’t as serious as it seemed and her family and doctor were all in on her fake death prank on Gene.
Meanwhile, Linda suffered her way through a ridiculous diet after Gretchen sashayed into the restaurant showing off her newer slimmer self. Linda can be happily oblivious to the rest of the world sometimes, so I really liked seeing a side of her that was vulnerable and affected by other people’s perceptions of her. Plus, her diet imbalance made for some pretty great emotional outbursts as the hunger took over her brain.
The Belcher family always makes me laugh, but I think what really made this episode of Bob’s Burgers work was that Gene’s first relationship seemed exactly like what an 11-year-old’s first relationship might really be like. Gene wasn’t dating Courtney out of a mutual attraction. Thoughts of kissing and going on dates were foreign elements in his pudgy little head. At first, he was in it because he didn’t know what else he was supposed to do, but eventually, he stuck around because he was so dazzled by musical gadgetry that hanging around an annoying girl seemed like a small price to pay for a future in showbiz. It’s what a real kid might actually do, and I love that Bob’s Burgers manages to show us how there’s something charming, funny, and strange in the way real kids perceive the drama in their own daily lives.
Favorite lines of the night:
Teddy: Gretchen’s sister is skinny, Lin, but it’s because she’s on methamphetamine.
Linda: Whatever works Teddy, don’t judge!
(Tina and Courtney’s entire bathroom scene was absolutely hysterical.)