May 10, 2016

TV Recap: Bob's Burgers - "Bye Bye Boo Boo"

Welcome to TV Recap, in which we look at modern shows and analyze them on an episode-to-episode basis. This one focuses on the cartoon sitcom Bob's Burgers, a very funny show that is capable of rivaling old school Simpsons in terms of irreverent humor and off the wall zaniness. With a cast of modern alternative comedian heroes, the story follows the Belchers as they run a burger joint. Join me as I take part in dissecting the show in its first full season. Check back on Tuesdays for the next exciting installment.

It has been awhile since we've heard from Bob's Burgers version of a boy band: Boyz 4 Now. While they're known for churning out corny pop songs, they are also the band that wins over Louise's (Kristen Schaal) heart. In this episode, the band is no more, or at least one of the key members whose ongoing arc has resulted in some of the most endearing teen angst moments from the preteen Louise's life. In this particular care, things are starting to get interesting and the emotions are starting to become richer as the gang manages to keep defamed member Boo Boo (Max Greenfield) from being faced with a vitriolic response. It's also another great episode in a season packed with memorable moments.
The episode opens with Tina (Dan Mintz) being invited to join a Boyz 4 Now fan club. Knowing that Louise liked them, she invites her sister along. She is reluctant. However, news eventually breaks that Boo Boo is following a solo career, which upsets fan club president Krissy (Lauren Lapkus). Tina isn't that upset and decides to enter a contest to try and get Boo Boo to do one of his concerts at the Wharf. The issue is that once Krissy finds out, she decides to plan an alternative revenge: win the contest and puke on Boo Boo. Meanwhile, Louise is continuing to reject liking him. That is, until everyone discovers that Krissy plans to puke on him after riding a roller coaster. When this is the case, she jumps in front of Boo Boo to protect him. It's then that she admits that she likes him, but not really.
Meanwhile, Bob (Jon Benjamin) gets news that a famous murder that inspired Dick Tracy took place in his restaurant. However, Jimmy Pesto (Jay Johnston) also discovers this and decides to lie and say that it happened at his place. After setting up a sabotage, Bob finally decides to strike when Jimmy is most busy. However, Bob is too moved by Jimmy's enthusiasm and calls off the hit, feeling that the lie is better anyways. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

I have to say that I like when there's a conjoined feel to a Bob's Burgers episode. It's been awhile since there has been one as focused as this one. There are two basic plots that both share the similar theme of sacrifice. Whereas most episodes find the parents and kids having stories at odds with each other, this one at least manages to dovetail nicely with a lot of personal interests forcing people to selfishly make decisions that may or may not harm the community. One may involve puke and the other just involves Jimmy pretending that a loaf of bread is a bazooka, but that's not the point. The point is that some things are futile, and the choice to not make a big deal of them is the bigger payoff.
The first story is that of Tina, who must learn once again how to cope with being excised from a group. Speaking as music is key to the community, it makes sense that Tina would find solace in Krissy's group. It means a lot to have someone to bond over the hormone-addled music. However, it's also the point of contention when the band breaks up and there's a petty fight over whether or not Boo Boo being a solo artist is worthwhile. It's a stupid thing, but one that clearly appeals to teenagers. The big sacrifice is that Tina gives up her position in the club in order to pursue what she feels is right, which is to support Boo Boo through thick and thin.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group is met with a series of their own problems. Louise's is the lesser of the evils, as she has to force herself to admit that she likes Boo Boo. This involves a whole lot of rejection, but it also involves lying to herself. The real struggle is to convince Krissy that she shouldn't sabotage another person's life just because they disagree with their decisions. To some extent, her punishment was the worst of everyone involved due to her having to throw up her vomit on the side of the stage instead of on Boo Boo. It looks far more shameful than her initial plan, and it embodies her realization that while she may not like the music, she has to accept that he's a person who is allowed to do whatever he wants. 
Meanwhile, Bob has his familiar conflicts with Jimmy. He has a chance to own a piece of town history, and Jimmy's ego snatches it away. There's a lot at play and inevitably causes him to consider ruing Pesto's business. It isn't a story that's nearly as fun as the main plot, but it does manage to show a certain growth in Bob's character. As he watches Jimmy act ridiculously, he admits that maybe the myth makes more sense in a pizza joint than a burger restaurant. It's not entirely clear, but it does seem like it's the one piece of leeway that Bob will hold over Jimmy if they ever get into another petty argument about inconsequential stuff. Still, the choice to walk away instead of perpetuating the problem is pretty noble and bold. It likely won't last, and they'll be arguing again sooner than later.
Bob's Burgers rarely gets this deep. It's an odd thing to say, especially in an episode that features people making gun noises and kids vomiting. However, not since the Christmas episode has this series managed to be so good at showing heart. It especially works well when both plots work thematically on the same level. Overall, this season is looking to end on a high note, and I am glad that it is reaching its 100th episode with a little grace and dignity. Thankfully, it still manages to be very funny at the same time. 

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