Film and TV

5 Reasons You Should Be Watching Bob's Burgers

Bob's Burgers entered Fox's Sunday evening programming quietly last year, filling the void left by the cancellation of King of the Hill. It looked as bad as Fox's other non-Simpsons/Family Guy animation (see: The PJs and Sit Down, Shut Up). And pun-filled reviews like this one from Entertainment Weekly -- "a comedy this well done is very rare indeed" -- didn't exactly have my interest piqued.

So when I finally caught it on Hulu after a good handful of episodes had aired, I began kicking myself for not watching Bob's Burgers sooner. It's funny. I mean really funny. It's sly but crass, family-friendly but dark, both witty and goofy -- all at the same time.

And it just so happens to be set in a burger joint, with plenty of food-related jokes each week, so I can write about it here with impunity. (GOD, FUTURAMA, WHY CAN'T YOU BE ABOUT FOOD?!)

Now in its second season, here are five reasons why you should be watching Bob's Burgers on Sunday nights -- or catching it on Hulu the next day when you can't (last season is also streaming on Netflix).

5. The Daily Burger Specials

These are the kind of puns I like: the subtle, clever ones. Once you catch one of the names of the daily burger specials there in the background of a scene, you watch for them religiously in each subsequent episode. Bob himself creates most of them (although his antagonistic younger daughter, Louise, occasionally attempts her own behind his back), and they're usually pop culture-themed. My favorites: the Chevre Which Way But Up burger, the Last of the Mo-Jicama burger and the Krauted House burger.

Side note: The puns in the recent food truck episode were pretty on-point too. Trucks with names like Ode to Soy (which Bob calls "terrible vegan food"), Fudge Judy, Ain't Muffin to It, Genghis Flan and Wok of Shame invaded Bob's street.

4. Bob's Rivalry with Jimmy Pesto

No one on the show serves to emphasize Bob's haplessness more than his cross-street restaurant rival: Jimmy Pesto, the owner of a successful Italian restaurant that has as many customers as Bob's Burgers lacks. Pesto actively wants Bob gone, so that he can build a gift shop where the burger joint currently stands. He and Bob engage in all-out battle with frequency, whether food-related (the burger wars, which incite Bob to create the ultimate Meatsiah burger) or not (as Bob tries and fails to best Pesto at a Space Invaders-style arcade game). Bob is almost lower than an underdog, but that only makes me like him and his crazy family more.

3. Teddy's Stories

Teddy is Bob's only consistent customer (along with Mort, the owner of the crematorium next door), a seemingly dull-witted handyman who always has amusing if unsettling stories to tell. The highlight of some episodes have been Teddy's stories, like the time he explained his fear of costumed mascots: He once walked in on his wife having an affair with the man who dressed up like a seal at the town's version of SeaWorld. He is also the only person (along with Mort, once again), who's ever nice to Bob and Linda, although his eagerness to help sometimes leads to hilariously absurdist forms of trouble.

2. The Kids' Antics

When Gene isn't busy drumming up business in the Bob's Burgers burger costume and when Tina isn't busy crushing on Jimmy Pesto's idiot son, the kids have a tendency to gang up on Bob. The trio is typically led by the adorably nutty but possibly sociopathic Louise, the youngest of the three siblings, of whom Bob and his wife Linda have a healthy fear. There was a Goonies-style episode for the Season 2 premiere (complete with new Cyndi Lauper song for the occasion) that saw the troika ruin Bob and Linda's planned romantic time with an impetuous trip to an abandoned factory. And the instant classic "Crawl Space" episode from Season 1 saw Bob get himself purposely trapped inside the restaurant's crawl space not only to avoid Linda's parents, but the kids too.

1. The Voice Talent

Bob is played by H. Jon Benjamin, the same voice actor who played Coach McGuirk in the cult classic Home Movies and Archer himself from Archer (watch that one if you like your animated comedies waaaay more offensive). Linda -- like Tina -- is played by a man, John Roberts, mixing ditzy and grounded into one Fran Drescher-tinged voice, if Fran Drescher was a drag queen. Gene is played by comic genius Eugene Mirman, who often seems like he's playing himself. The rest of the kids are played by talented comedians, too: one-liner king Dan Mintz is Tina and Kristen Schaal, currently also seen on 30 Rock as Kenneth the page's insane replacement, plays Louise with comic aplomb. Rarely has a cast of this caliber been assembled on one show. The jokes are funny, to be sure. But the voice talent of the actors brings it all to life -- and Bob's Burgers wouldn't work without them.

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Katharine Shilcutt