For successful TV sitcom families, there must be a lot of dysfunction (much like any family would). Both live action and animation frequently focus on the negative aspects of family: misunderstandings, arguments, and – perhaps the most deeply ingrained – formulaic roles within the household. Examples include messy but lovable families like those on Modern Family and the occasionally violent slapstick comedy of The Simpsons.
Many sitcom families follow the stereotypes of the logical but excessively repressive mother and the loving but ultimately incompetent father. In the meantime, the typical selections for the family’s children are the angry teenager, the smart one, and the odd one. But not Bob’s Burgers.
These archetypes are undoubtedly useful tools for superficial characterization. They serve as strong foundations. And within comedy families, there are many fascinating and distinctive personalities that match these categories while being endearing and humorous. However, although having an intriguing notion, these characters can occasionally feel cliched or overused. Thankfully, one TV sitcom stands out from the crowd in terms of deviating from the stereotype of the dysfunctional family.
Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin), a struggling restaurant owner, runs a hamburger joint with his wife Linda (John Roberts), their three children Tina (Dan Mintz), Louise (Kristen Schaal), and Gene (Eugene Mirman). On the surface, this family appears to have many of the characteristics of your typical sitcom family: a strict parent, a fun-loving parent, a teen struggling with identity and romance, a child who appears to be thinking at a higher level than other children their age, and an extremely vivacious oddball.
However, Bob’s Burgers gives each of its characters a unique spin. In contrast to the typical mother-father dynamic, Bob, for instance, is the grouchier parent while Linda is more easygoing and upbeat. However, the categorization goes far deeper than that.
It’s nearly difficult for Linda to have a terrible day because of how upbeat she always seems to be. Linda uses her endearing optimism to transform every problem into a ray of sunshine, especially when her family needs it most. While some sitcoms employ excessive optimism to demonstrate a character’s incompetence or separation from cold harsh reality. Linda is prone to singing and dancing, and she has an unending amount of affection for her family, which contrasts wonderfully with her husband.
Bob rarely crosses the line into being overly rigorous in his no-nonsense demeanor. Bob’s attitude is a normal response to the strain of owning and operating a restaurant while raising three children, although in other sitcoms the more gloomy characteristics of a parent can be seen as a negative quality. He frequently plays the straight man to his family’s antics, serving as an anchor to put everyone in their place. The Belcher family needs this anchor because they have a tendency to run amok.
The Belcher children consistently avoid the outdated tropes that comedy youngsters are prone to fall into. Even though Tina spends a lot of her time in middle school as a pre-teen striving to keep up, her struggles are always tinged with optimism. Louise has a tendency to be unpredictable. Contrary to other TV sitcom clichés, she is not academically superior to her peers; instead, she has excessive street smarts and a worrisome fondness for disruption.
Even though Louise avoids mischief, she cares when it matters (despite frequently seeming as though she doesn’t). Gene is likely the Belcher family member who is most one-note, but that doesn’t imply he lacks depth. Gene invests everything he has into any activity, no matter how strange, and his curiosity seems to have no end.
The Belchers are already breaking stereotypes on their own, but when they work together, they are even more powerful. The Belchers acknowledge each other as important members of the family team, which is how they avoid becoming a dysfunctional family. Everyone’s viewpoint is respected, nobody is made to feel as though their voice is being ignored, and they live together.
For instance, the kids all have their own responsibilities and their work at the restaurant is constantly emphasized, so it’s not just Bob and Linda who are in charge of running it. Tina, Louise, and Gene are being raised to support their parents and each other as a result of their involvement in the family business, which fosters a supportive environment.
Additionally, family discussions (and even conflicts) frequently put children on an equal footing with adults. Tina, Louise, and Gene are free to embark on their own adventures, which frequently resemble those of their parents. They are respected and given a voice in all family discussions. Despite the fact that their parents always have the last say in major choices, their input is always taken into account.
Like every family, tensions might rise from time to time. Family always comes first, though, and any relationship’s repair usually happens before the episode’s 20 minutes are over in a way that emphasizes compassion and forgiveness more than plot device.
The Belchers unintentionally melt Louise’s beloved Kuchi Kopi in Season 7, Episode 1, “Flu-ouise.” The others hustle, going to great lengths to obtain her a new Kuchi Kopi, both to earn her forgiveness and to make it up to her. Louise pledges never to forgive them. As Louise attempts to contain her rage toward her family, she experiences a series of fever dreams. Louise ultimately makes the choice to forgive them despite their lack of action. Any difficulty is surmounted by the Belchers’ love for one another, including the tragic melting of Kuchi Kopi.
The whole family is eager to share their interests with one another. In “The Laser-inth,” episode 18 of Season 7, Bob enthusiastically introduces Gene to the band Zentipede during their final performance by taking him to a rock-and-roll laser show.
Gene unfortunately experiences a panic attack since the lights and noise are too much for him to bear. Bob prioritizes Gene even though it is obvious that he wants to return and see the show before it ends permanently. Gene expresses curiosity about his dad’s love of the show as they sit in the parking lot. They become closer as a result of their conversation without the forceful lights or sounds after Bob describes it all in great detail. Finally, Gene treats Bob with the same respect that Bob did for him, and they are able to wrap up the program.
Even potentially fatal situations can’t bring the Belchers to their knees, therefore the barriers mentioned above are quite minor. The Belchers are buried alive in a car in The Bob’s Burgers Movie while attempting to flee a murderer. The Belchers tackle the threat together, despite the fact that there is little cause for optimism (even Linda starts to lose hope).
Even in the midst of his worry, Bob apologizes to Linda for being a downer and always placing the burden of hope on her. They take the time to allay Louise’s fears about her apparent lack of bravery. Even before they pass away, he asks her if she wants a divorce (to which she says she can wait it out).
Even though this is plainly a joke meant to make people laugh, the message is nevertheless valid: Bob is able to understand and support his wife, perhaps even more so when she faces imminent death. In actuality, the Belcher family is able to work together to escape the death trap, and everyone helps to make it happen. They function as a solid team even in situations where life or death are at stake.
Bob and Linda’s family dynamic is a functioning and welcome variation from the more typical dysfunctional family dynamics in media since the Belcher family members share agency and are open with each other and their children. They share a positive, respectful, and loving way of life, regardless of the difficulties they face on a daily basis or the impending end of their lives.