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A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: 'Bob's Burgers,' The Best Dysfunctional Family on TV


The highlight of growing up the in the 1990s was spending Sundays watching football in the afternoon and The Simpsons that night. It seems odd that, even now in my late-20s, The Simpsons is still airing. It's no longer the crown jewel of FOX's Sunday lineup though. In fact, the best animated show isn't even the one on Fox Sundays that was canceled and picked up again following strong DVD sales. The best show is the one that gets the least publicized in Fox's regular promos. My friends, pop culture aficionados, the best show is hands down Bob's Burgers.

If there was one thing we learned from the success of The Simpsons, it's that Americans love a family that is horribly flawed and drawn crudely. Bob's Burgers is that. It's also so much more.

Now, I'm not writing this and sucking up to the show since it's gaining popularity with each renewed season. I've been a backer of Bob' Burgers since day one. I've loved it since it's debut.

Back in the early 2000s, Loren Bouchard, creator of Bob's Burgers, had a show on UPN named Home Movies. It was a brilliant show that followed the after-school goings-on of three kids who made movies, paying homage to famous films. The cast consisted of respected comedians that were never ready for primetime. While Home Movies lasted only three seasons on the air, Bouchard was tinkering with the idea of the Belchers on TV.

Bob's Burgers is a brilliant buy for FOX. You take an obsolete, aging dinosaur in The Simpsons, a mashup of poorly written sitcom and extended-sketch ideas in any show conceived by Seth McFarlane and company, and you're left with an over-the-top, weak-plot lineup of comedies. Bob's Burgers finally addresses a more passive attack to the funny bone, one that is on par with the comedy of this century.

The idea of the dysfunctional family has been done ad nauseum. So many live-action and animated sitcoms have come and gone under the premise of parents and kids who have little in common. Here, we have a show that portrays dysfunctional in a more realistic sense while still being funny.

Some quick info about Bob's Burgers. The show is about the Belcher family. Bob, the patriarch of the family, owns a burger shop. His wife, Linda, works there too. Bob and Linda have three kids, Tina, Gene and Louise. Like your classic sitcom, life is never easy for the Belchers.

We see the Belchers as a family with diverse attitudes, likes, dislikes, dreams and fears. While each family member can find a general conflict with one another, the writers find a way to keep the stories positive through their mutual family bond and love. Contrast this with shows like Family Guy, which constantly portray families as riddled with real dysfunction.

Finally, we have to give this show credit for being original in its humor. Family Guy and American Dad! take hackneyed plots and jam in as many attempted jokes at obscure pop culture references to make people laugh. The Simpsons' writing has taken such a departure from its original incarnation, it feels like the show's writers are trying to cop the style of the MacFarlane shows while throwing in as many guest voices as possible. With Bob's Burgers, the deadpan approach and subtle references to movies and film plots are done in a way that adds to the original adventure the Belchers find themselves in.

I cannot say enough about the cast in this show. It has the same feel as Home Movies — a bunch of great comedians who know how to make things funny. H. John Benjamin, John Roberts, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal voice the Belchers. (Yes, there are three members of the Belcher family, but only one female in that list. If a woman can voice Bart Simpson, than a bunch of guys can voice the women in the Belcher family.) On top of them, Bob's Burgers has some recurring characters voiced by great, funny people like Kevin Kline, Megan Mullally, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, David Herman and Thomas Lennon. The list goes on.

I know we all are supposed to hate most comedies not seen on CBS (please read as sarcasm), but if you're not watching Bob's Burgers and enjoying it, you are either two things, a Communist or an idiot.

Contact Seth Pohorence on Twitter at @spohorence.
A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: 'Bob's Burgers,' The Best Dysfunctional Family on TV Reviewed by Seth Pohorence on 11/13/2013 Rating: 5

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