It’s not often you’ll read an article in a headline like this recommending you go to the movies to watch a cartoon, but gird up your loins – I do. If you haven’t seen 12 seasons of the TV show Bob’s Burgers because you “have a life” or whatever, I believe the new Bob’s Burgers movie information could still be for you.
Bob’s Burgers is an animation about Bob and Linda Belcher, an eccentric couple who run a restaurant called Bob’s Burgers, with their three only children Tina, Gene and Louise. It’s very funny and charming, full of family hijinks, jokes and songs. I was thrilled to see in the movie’s trailer that all the big things of the show had nailed it — including my favorite element, the Belchers’ money troubles.
Within seconds you see Bob panicking after he and Linda are told by the bank that they have seven days to make a payment. Yes, strangely, this ingredient of the Bob’s Burgers burger is my favorite because I identify with it deeply. It really is a silly and fun show, but humming under the silliness of each episode is the very real struggle of a family living financially from week to week. It’s an animated show where an unexpected cost of living means the difference between our beloved characters being able to pay rent or not. It doesn’t sound so funny, but I promise you it’s:
“Well…one man’s trash is another man’s present for his father!” -Tina Belcher
The list of TV comedies that have dealt with working class realities is too short. Bob’s Burgers is one of those rare shows, and it pulls no punches. Bob and Linda are often in negotiations with their landlord, behind on the rent. They’re trying to earn extra money to send Tina to horse camp, her dream (and mine). Bob and Linda each take a second job at points. Needing to pay a bill out of the blue, Linda says, “Here are three credit cards, spread them around.” Children understand that they can’t have certain Christmas presents because they simply don’t have enough money.
I see a lot of my own family in the Belchers (except we’re human flesh). I grew up in a rural setting with parents who worked incredibly hard in blue-collar jobs to support four children, with many moves and pushing my dad’s dodgy car to start every morning. Like with Bob’s Burgers, no matter how hard my parents tried, the financial situation could not be completely hidden from the children. But Bob and Linda, like my parents, work hard to create a safe, stable and fun environment. They’re also just…really funny, all the time. The whole Belcher family fights difficulties with humor and jokes and roasts each other. Yes, it’s my parents’ fault if I’m like that, send all the mail to them.
But amid the jokes and the heat, we see another hard truth exposed with the Belchers. Their situation shows that all the hard work and humor in the world doesn’t mean things will get any easier. It doesn’t matter how good Bob’s cooking is. It’s okay if everyone takes on extra work. It doesn’t matter if all the children participate. It doesn’t matter if your parents’ bodies are destroyed by decades of physical, low-paying jobs. You don’t get rich, you just keep going. You don’t get a magic break that solves everything, you just hope you settle your kids for an easier time later.