A poem by Bob Belcher Bob Burger, the best dad on TV

Pictures: Twentieth Century TV

Pictures: Twentieth Century TV

Admiring your kids doesn’t have to be drastic — but on TV, and especially in comics, it’s just that. Homer Simpson does not like his children. Peter Griffin does not love his children. Everyone loves RaymondRaymond He did not love his children. It’s baked into the DNA of the sitcom’s dad: You the love Your kids, you save them, you have the occasional warm moment when writers realize they’ve left their heartstrings unstrung for too long. But Such as they? Do you genuinely enjoy their company? It simply isn’t over.

This is what makes Bob BurgerBob Belcher, back this week for his thirteenth season on Fox, is The Greatest Sitcome Father on TV.

Admittedly, it didn’t start that way. This is the man who, in his own first appearance, deplores (in H. John Benjamin’s beautifully angry voice) that “You are all my children, and I love you, but you are terrible at what you do.” For most of the poor show’s first season by comparison, Bob is often the stereotypical sitcom dad: the guy who constantly tells his kids to stop having fun and get back to work, threatens the foundations a lot, and just occasionally jokes about Jane (Eugene Merman), Tina (Dan Mintz), Louise (Kristen Schaal) and their various bizarre motives.

But the first signs of cracks in Bob’s sulky exterior and mustache appeared very quickly, early in the first season “Spaghetti Western and Meatballs.” This is the episode that proves that he and Louise – the baby Belcher who shares her father’s sarcastic but secretly cute look – have a perpetual appointment to play “Burn Unit”, a game in which they navigate TV channels and make fun of anything we see. It’s one of the show’s first signs that Bob values ​​his kids, not just as kids (or cheap co-working at a burger), but as people he actually loves spending time with.

This true affection is a funky comedy weapon, one that has always had series creator Lauren Bouchard’s quiver. It dates back at least as far as Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, Bouchard’s first work credited as a writer, as the relationship between title character Jonathan Katz and his son Ben (Benjamin, again) was “two roommates cracking each other” like nothing else. (Another distinguishing feature of Bouchard: characters who actually laugh at each other’s jokes.) The new idea that parents and children can actually be friends was even more prominent in Bouchard and Brendon Small home movieswhere young director Brendon and his mother Paula (Paula Poundstone in Season 1, Janine Detulio later) had a relationship marked by an endless desire to make the other laugh.

The Belcher Family at Pop Burger

picture: 20 . TV

Bob Burger It works in a reality that is (slightly) more entrenched than home movies, but still Bob has been given plenty of opportunities over the years to admit that he is not only tolerant of his children, but actively enjoys them. Another notable example (and another classic Bob Louise episode) is Season 3. “Carpe Museum,” Where, after some token resistance, Bob fully embraces Louise’s craving to sneak away during a boring field trip, the two of them poking fun even as the inevitable troubles flare up. (It’s also the episode that introduces life-size, cheerful asthmatic Roddy Brian Husky to the show’s cast, a character whose apparent greatness is unfortunately beyond the scope of this article.) The Carp Museum asserts that Bob does not need to be an authoritative figure to serve as a father; Within the logic of the show universe, there will always be some Mr. Safa is ready to hand out penalties. Getting Bob to act instead as his kids’ quiet ally and so much fun is more fun than getting Benjamin to find a hundred other ways to scream “Stop it!”

(On the subject of Benjamin: I note this with some regularity more in my archer Reviewsbut – although he tends to play sulky assholes – there is no one in the voice acting game better at expressing just joy in something. Bob’s joy, on those occasions when the world does not conspire to suppress her, is truly a thing of beauty.)

Even after his relationship with Louise, though, Bob is simply staying away from his kids, whether he’s cooking with Jane, indulging Tina’s various obsessions with equestrianism, or simply taking a supporting role in their efforts to put on an ice show to win. Mercy mall villain santa. Kids still tease him sometimes for sure. Sometimes it should be the voice that tells them to cut it. But they also make him laugh more than any other dad in the sitcom in Ready Memory.

Louise orders Bob’s rotten hamburger meat | Season seven episode. 15 | Bob Burger

It’s an advanced process, too. As the show has progressed over the past 11 years on the air, Bob has said yes to more and more things, for the simple fact that there’s no particularly good reason to say no. (Besides the limitations of how family TV comedies are “supposed” to work.) Meanwhile, the show gave us more and more glimpses of his inner weirdness: his love of pranks, the constant joke of satiating all the food he cooks with silly little noises, And his ability to throw himself into absurd situations with complete conviction. Not only does his relationship with his wife, Uber Hame Linda (John Roberts), make sense, but it helps the viewer see how the Bleacher’s spawn is a reflection of Both The strange aspects of their parents. (Even if, in practice, this was mostly done by making Bob more child-like over the years, rather than the other way around.) His paternity stemmed from their common crow, and an appreciation for how weird and funny they were. Not, though.

And so, let’s raise a glass to Bob Belcher: a TV dad who beats 99 percent off the pack with the simple trick of liking his kids. There are not many like him. More than a pity.

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