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'Bob's Burgers' season eight continues to merge realism with absurdity

tv review

The eighth season of the animated sitcom Bob's Burgers premiered Oct. 1.
The eighth season of the animated sitcom Bob's Burgers premiered Oct. 1.

In its simplest form, the lovable Fox comedy “Bob’s Burgers” focuses on working-class hero Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) and his family’s everyday struggles, from financial to relational. The show takes a lighthearted approach in navigating such challenges, allowing audiences to connect with the Belchers’ everyday lives. Awash with toilet humor and juvenile antics, “Bob’s Burgers” never fails to draw laughter from Tina’s (Dan Mintz) schemes to seduce love interest Jimmy Jr. and remains relevant with Gene’s (Eugene Mirman) well-timed pop culture references.

The show returned Oct. 1 for its eighth season with the premiere “Brunchsquatch.”  The episode transcends the bounds of the show’s typical animation style by showcasing the artwork of over 60 different fans, ranging from claymation to anime-inspired. The episode follows three drastically different storylines: the kids begging for a dog, Bob deciding to serve brunch in wake of competition from Jimmy Pesto and Louise (Kristen Schaal) assisting Felix Fischoeder (Zach Galifianakis) in hiding from his brother during a high-stakes game of hide and seek, each scene change inducing whiplash with the abrupt shifts in animation.

“Bob’s Burgers” has a flair for the absurd and the unexpected, yet it retains a sense of realism. Although the Fischoeder siblings partake in a seemingly ridiculous game of hide-and-seek spanning 20 days, Felix loses the game despite managing to avoid his brother for 19 of those days. With that, “Bob’s Burgers” reminds its audience of the perpetual grapple between life’s chaos and reality. Perhaps on a darker note, the annual game of hide-and-seek serves as an allegory for death. As the Fischoeder brothers age, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to evade death, a reality we all eventually face.

The show keeps with its tradition of social musings, poking fun at the millennial obsession with brunch as Bob decides to open his restaurant during brunch hours, serving up “Topless Breakfast Burgers” and bottomless mimosas. Although famed brunch blogger “The Dame” enjoys the food, the so-called “Brunch Skunks” take advantage of the endless “Mom-osas,” neglecting to order food and drunkenly ravaging the restaurant.

There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the animation shifts, the changes not particularly flowing with the storylines, yet they leave the audience anticipating which manifestation of the Belcher family will materialize next. The animation shifts do serve to distract from the somewhat lacking storyline, which presents fewer laugh-out-loud moments and a tamer plot than previous episodes. In the past, the show has featured eccentric scenarios including Bob’s life-threatening debacle with landlord Mr. Fischoeder in “Wharf Horse” and “Food Truckin’,” as Tina casts aside her awkward persona — which seems to mirror our own weird adolescent psyches — and dons an alter ego that showcases both her confidence and maturity.

Nevertheless, the sudden and often surprising animation changes highlight the cast members’ great talent and ability to carry the show, their distinctive and familiar voices bringing each representation of their respective characters to life without diminishing the show’s quality. Mr. Fischoeder’s shifting depiction, as he stomps out of the restaurant and into the Belchers’ basement to search for his brother Felix (who is hiding in the meat freezer), seems almost to caricaturize him, adding to the humor of the ludicrous yet amusing nature of the game and the storyline itself.

In the end, the Belcher siblings do not earn the privilege of owning a dog, despite taking especially good care of Felix for 24 hours in their basement. To some, such an ending may seem as if the kids’ efforts — and therefore the episode — was pointless. And, to an extent, it was. But in a deeper sense, it explores the sphere of existential nihilism, in that perhaps certain ventures do not necessitate positive outcomes and such initiatives merely distract from the pointlessness of life.

“Bob’s Burgers” continues to be a fan favorite — its simultaneously unrefined yet witty sense of humor almost contradicts the show’s tendency to share wisdom with its audience and uncover universal truths that can be applicable to our own experiences. Granted, “Bob’s Burgers” may be just another cartoon on a long list of adult animated shows that seek to analyze life’s higher purpose through situational comedy. But the Belchers’ ordinary family dynamic (and its knack for the extraordinary) continues to appeal to a broad audience, meaning “Bob’s Burgers” is here to stay — at least for another season.


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