Television Millie Productions, and 20th Century FOX

Television
Log Assignment

            The show I chose to focus on for my television log
assignment was Fox’s Bob’s Burgers. Bob’s Burgers is an animated series
depicting the life of Bob Belcher, his wife Linda Belcher, and their three kids
Tina, Gene, and Louise. The show follows the Belchers as they balance running a
burger shop with Tina’s raging teenage hormones, Gene’s comedy musician acts,
and Louise’s penchant for revenge schemes and manipulation. Bob’s Burgers first aired on January 9,
2011, and is produced by Bento Box, Entertainment, Wilo Productions, Buck &
Millie Productions, and 20th Century FOX Television produce the
show. Bob’s Burgers is on FOX and can be accessed on basic cable and Hulu. The
intended audience is young adults ages 18 to 25. It is an easily accessible
show, airing on basic cable and available on Hulu. In class, this semester we
focused on the ways that a societies culture can be represented through
families, in the case of Bob’s Burgers
although many aspects of the dominant culture are rejected there is still some
representation of the dominant American culture.

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For
example, Bob is a small business owner, his family is extremely tight-knit and
supportive. A portrayal of a working-class family is common in older sitcoms
like I Love Lucy, while most modern
sitcoms showcase upper-middle-class families. Bob’s Burgers also subverts the traditional gender roles, Linda and
Bob are portrayed as equals, neither make financial decisions with consulting
the other and they both work in the family’s restaurant. Instead of having a
sex-craved male character we have the Belcher’s eldest child Tina lusting after
Jimmy Jr. The family is burgeoningly supportive of Tina’s sexual interest
allowing her to express her attraction for males of her age in a safe and
understanding environment. For example, in the episode entitled Bad Tina, Tina is blackmailed by new
girl Tammy who threatens to read her “erotic friend fiction” to the entire
class. Tina goes to her mother Linda for support, Linda does not judge Tina for
writing erotic fan fiction and tells her that she is creative and imaginative
and at first, supports Tina’s plan to read her “erotic friend fiction” to her
class. While sexuality is celebrated in the show, the depictions of minorities
are lacking, the Belchers are described by the creators as having
French-Canadian heritage. The towns dentist is of Asian descent and has a
fleeting relationship with Linda’s sister. A friend of Louise’s is
African-American and a recurring character named Marshmallow is transgender and
is also African-American. Although there are few representations of minorities
in the show they are all portrayed in a positive light, there is no focus on
the use of stereotypes to categorize the characters that are minorities. As I
mentioned earlier class representation focuses many on the working class, there
is a lot of focus on the Belcher’s financial problems, the wealthiest character
is the Belcher’s landlord Mr. Fischoeder, he is portrayed as eccentric and
manipulative. These characters make up the residents of the beach-side town
that the Belchers live in.

            The town the Belchers live in is unnamed, but there is
speculation from fans that they live somewhere in New Jersey because the street
their house is on is called Ocean Avenue. The show is mostly self-contained
with very view episodes taking place outside of town. The characters that live
in the town have very distinct personalities, and sense most of the shows humor
comes from interpersonal relationships and interactions with the other members
of the town, it can be inferred that place is an important factor within the
show. The show takes place during modern times, there isn’t much focus on
history in the show. The show focuses mainly on the family and the relationships
they have with each other.

            Family is very important in Bob’s Burgers, most problems and solutions center from the family
dynamic. The Belcher family is varied in personalities, Bob is mostly
level-headed and boring, Linda is excitable and fast-paced, Tina is slightly
introverted, and hormone driven, Gene is simple-minded and creative, Louise is
manipulative and confrontational. Although the family may have different
interest and personalities they are all extremely supportive of each other. If
one Belcher has a problem (even if it is one they created themselves) all
Belchers come together to solve it. Take for instance the episode mentioned
earlier in this paper, Bad Tina after
Gene and Louise find out that Tammy is blackmailing Tina they take it upon themselves
to get Tina’s journal back and stop Tammy from publicly humiliating Tina. As
Louise says, “Getting to mess with Tina is a privilege not a right.” This
episode is a great example of the way these characters are portrayed and the
way they interact with each other.

            The most important characters in this series are, Bob,
Linda, Tina, Gene, and Louise. Bob wears white t-shirts and grey sweatpants;
when working in the restaurant Bob wear a white apron. Linda wears a bright red
shirt, red glasses, and blue jeans, when working in the restaurant Linda also
wears a white apron. Tina wears a light blue shirt, black glasses, a dark blue
skirt, and white knee socks. Gene wears a yellow shit and grey shorts. Louise
wears a green dress and a hat with pink bunny ears (which she never removes).
Bob, Linda and the kids all work at the restaurant. Bob works the grill and
enjoys coming up with pun themed burgers to display on the restaurant
chalkboard. Linda runs the restaurant in the episode Lindapendent Woman we learn that she is the only one who can work
the restaurant thermostat. Tina and Louise usually work the front of the house,
refilling salt shakers and napkin dispensers. Gene wears a burger costume and
stands on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. The personalities
represented by the family are dynamic. Bob is calm in most situations, but he
does tend to freak out when things go awry, he can be a bit naïve in some
situation and can be a pushover but he is very dedicated to his family. Linda
is energetic, she is an in your face character who is not afraid to be herself,
she’s extremely confidant, and like most T.V. moms has a strong relationship
with red wine. She tends to get herself into trouble when trying to make
herself seem cool in front of her children. Tina is slightly introverted but,
as the show has progressed she has grown more confident. She loves horses and
Jimmy Jr.’s butt, she is adamant about growing into her own definition of a
beautiful and strong woman. Gene is a goofball, he wants a career in music but
also enjoys comedy. He is extremely creative and likes to share his musical
creations with peoples. Louise is assertive, she isn’t afraid to stand up for
herself or her family. She at times has trouble expressing more gentle
emotions, she is also manipulative. Bob has a very monotone way of speaking, he
uses working class, regular language nothing extremely academic. Linda has a
shrill voice she draws out a lot of her words, the language she uses is
sometimes made up of words that she makes up herself. Tina, like Bob, also has
a very monotone way of speaking, she uses the language of a normal teenager
would use. Gene has a shrill voice like Linda and yells a lot. Louise also
yells a lot and curses. The best way to understand these characters is to look
at episodes that are centered around them.

Since
this show isn’t linear I decided to focus on five episodes centered around each
member of the family. The episodes I chose to focus on were: Stand by Gene, The Hormone-iums, Seaplane,
Father of the Bob, and, Flu-ouise. Stand
by Gene is a Gene centered episode, made obvious by the title it is the
sixth episode of the twelfth season of Bob’s Burgers. This episode follows
Gene, Louise, and Tina as Gene leads a group of his friends, Darryl, Jimmy Jr.
Jocelyn, Tammy, Zeke, and Rudy to see a “two-butted goat” on a farm. This
episode is a prime of example of the way that Gene sees the world. Gene is a
creative and imaginative boy who searches for wonder in his everyday life. Gene
is the middle child so he rarely gets to take the lead in situations, this
episode allowed Gene to oversee a group for once. It also reinvigorated Gene’s
belief in “magic and mystery.”  The
second storyline in this episode deals with Linda and Bob’s competitive nature
as the face off in a game of napkin darts. The episode The Hormone-iums is a Tina centered episode is the fourteenth
episode of the sixth season, it follows Tina as she gets the opportunity to
perform a solo with the Hormone-iums her schools “puberty positive” vocal group
after the lead singer gets mononucleosis.  Tina deals with protecting her social standing
in her school after she gets uninvited from a kissing party thrown by Jocelyn
after becoming the face of anti-kissing. Bob reminds Tina that she is in
control of “who she kisses and what she says” which gives Tina the boost she
needs to add her own twist to the Hormone-iums performance. The episode Seaplane! is a Linda centered episode it
is the third episode of the fourth season of Bob’s Burgers the episode follows Linda as she deals with the lack
of passion in her relationship with Bob. Linda suggests that they take seaplane
flying lesson but Bob refuses, when Linda decides to go to the lesson by
herself the instructor attempts to seduce her. Bob eventually finds out about
the instructors plans and goes with the kids to pick up Linda from the island she
and the instructor are on. Linda and Bob eventually reconcile and realize that
they both need to appreciate each other more. The episode Father of the Bob is a Bob centered episode, it is the sixth
episode of the fifth season of Bob’s
Burgers. This episode follows Bob as he deals with interacting with his
father on Christmas. Bob and his father have never gotten along as Bob’s
father, Big Bob never supported Bob’s creativity when it came to cooking. At
the end of the episode Bob learns that his father has always secretly supported
him and believes him to be a good father. The final episode I watched was Flu-ouise, this is the first episode of
the seventh season. The episode centers around Louise when she gets the flu,
after her family accidentally destroys her Kuchi Kopi nightlight she refuses to
forgive them. Louise has a fever dream where her toys take on the
characteristics of her family, in the dream Louise is attempting to get to a
tower where she can be by herself forever. While Louise is sleeping the Bob and
his friend Teddy go to a late-night toy shop and are forced to listen to the
owner tell a Kuchi Kopi story to get a new nightlight for Louise. Meanwhile in
her dream Louise learns to appreciate and forgive her family, when the family
replaces the old Kuchi Kopi Louise chooses to forgive them and keeps the
nightlight they destroyed. This is the episode I chose to discuss in more
detail in this essay.

            This is one of my favorite episodes,
it is light hearted and fun but also focuses on character development. Like
many other episodes of Bob’s Burgers
there is a strong musical element with original songs throughout. This episode
focuses on the family dynamic that the Belchers have. The family are all a bit
afraid of Louise as she is intense and prone to seeking revenge against those
who have wronged her. After realizing that they have ruined her nightlight the
family knows that Louise will be angry with them but they do expect her to
forgive them. Bob even states that he understands that the moment is too fresh
for her to have perspective on but reminds her that they are still family.
Louise still chooses to refrain from forgiving her family, throughout the
episode she learns the importance of forgiveness and develops as a person. The
Belcher family would do anything in their power to ensure that all its members
are happy. Even if the Belchers have a disagreement, they will always come
together in the end to protect and support each other. Flu-ouise is an episode that captures what it means to be a
Belcher, they are a close-knit family who would do anything for each other. Bob’s Burgers is a show centered around
family and character interactions.

            These are the things that draw
people to watch Bob’s Burgers along
with the animation style and humor. Most positive reviews state that the
animation style reminds them of early 80s and 90s cartoons like Beavis and Butthead. The negative
reviews seem to believe that the animation style is lacking the finesse that
other current shows have. The humor of the show is something that people either
hate or love. There is a lot of gross out humor, fart jokes etc. and this seems
to drive some people away. Many people compare it to Family Guy either stating that it is far superior or greatly
underwhelming. Critics enjoy the character development that occurs throughout
the various seasons and celebrates the humor that the show provides. Bob’s Burgers is not a show for
everyone, while there is adult humor it is not done in the same vain as Family Guy. People enjoy that the jokes
in Bob’s Burgers are connected to the
situations that the characters find themselves in; unlike in Family Guy were the jokes can be
completely disconnected from the characters situations. Bob’s Burgers is a show that I greatly enjoyed and think it does a
good job of portraying family in a positive light.

 

Bibliographical
note:

            The readings from class that I
focused on were the ones that talked about the portrayal of family on
television. The first being E.J. Graff’s “What Makes a Family?” in this essay
Graff discusses the way the family was defined historically, Bob’s Burgers represents the more common
definition of a family consisting of a father, mother, and their children. The
Graff essay brought to light the many ways that family could be defined,
although these different definitions were not included in Bob’s Burgers having the ability to compare this shows definition
family was helpful in forming my analysis. The analysis of television’s role as
a teacher put forth by John Hartley in his essay “Democratainment” clarified
the place that television has in everyday life. Bob’s Burgers uses this role as teacher to subvert the dominant culture
by creating a family that freely accepts its members without trying to change
them. In “Democratainment” Hartley discusses the “addressee” that television
reaches, in Bob’s Burgers the
creators are reaching out to an audience that understands how being an outcast
in society can make the relationships we form in our families even more
important. The discussion we had in class the centered around family and its
portrayal on television made me more aware of the unique (at least for an adult-centered
animated series) perspective that Bob’s
Burgers has when it comes to family. In most animated sitcoms, the humor
comes from the ways that the family doesn’t get along, but in Bob’s Burgers humor is found in how well
the family gets along with and supports each other.