The Genius of Bob’s Burgers

Comedy, Culture and Onion-Tended Consequences

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About the Book

Given the limitless freedom of animation, why would anyone use it to make a sitcom about a struggling family-owned burger place? And why would audiences embrace this greasy fantasy, not just by tuning in but by permanently decorating their legs and arms with images from the show and writing detailed backstories for its minor characters? This book-length critical study of Bob’s Burgers examines the moments in which the animated sitcom exposes the chasms between generations, explores gender and sexual identity, and allows fans to imagine a better world. Essays cover how the show can be read as a series of critiques of Steven Spielberg’s early blockbusters, a rejection of Freudian psychology, or an examination of the artificiality of gendered behaviors through the cross-casting of characters like Tina and Linda. By tracing the ways that the popular reception of Bob’s Burgers reflects changing cultural attitudes, the essays provoke broader questions about the responsibility of popular entertainment to help audiences conceive of fantasies closer to home: fantasies of loving and accepting parents, of creative, self-assured children, and of menus filled with artisanal puns.

About the Author(s)

Margaret France is an instructor of English at Yakima Valley College in Yakima, Washington. She has also taught at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and at UC Davis. She has published scholarly articles on Daniel Defoe and 18th-century personal advertisements.

Bibliographic Details

Margaret France

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 201
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6937-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4457-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

wledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction: Welcome to the Pundane Surreal 3
1. From the Womb to the Tomb: Bob’s Burgers and Birth Order Theory 11
2. Spielberger of the Day: Boomers Dream, Generation X Schemes 28
3. “We’re not ­not-going to a ­toy-pony convention”: Bob’s Burgers and Fan Culture 50
4. Our Father Who Art in Apron: Bob Belcher, Model Father 71
5. Burger Boss: Bob’s Burgers as a Workplace Sitcom 84
6. “Boys are from Mars, girls are from Venus”: Gender and Voice Casting in Bob’s Burgers 97
7. ­Gene-der Trouble: Gene Belcher and Masculinity 115
8. The Marshmallow Test: Bob’s Burgers and Complex Identity 132
9. “You’re so good at touching strangers”: Bob’s Burgers in Uncertain Times 148
Chapter Notes 163
Bibliography 169
Index 183