Nothing More Progressive than a Burger

Many viewers who watch Bob’s Burgers may only watch the show for it’s witty humor, but beneath the surface level of the show there are many social themes present throughout each episode.The show follows a family  of five who own a burger joint in the middle of Ocean City, New Jersey. Bob and Linda Belcher are the parents of three children: Tina, Gene, and Louise, who all have very different personalities. Tina, the eldest, is the awkward adolescent, who writes zombie and unicorn fan fiction. Louise, the youngest, is an intelligent con artist and comes up with crazy ideas to make a profit, while Gene, the middle child and only son, believes in his heart he is a girl all while providing sassy commentary and creating jiggles from his Casio keyboard.

The Belcher family is always involved and find themselves in some pretty sticky situations. In season 4 ep. 20 “Gene It On”, the show plays off of an the classic movie Bring It On highlighting the gender roles of male cheer-leading and the cattiness and dramatics of Bring It On. Tina wants to try out for the school cheer-leading team, but her performance was so dull that it was overshadowed by Gene cheering her on in support from the bleachers. Though some families are opposed to their sons being cheerleaders the Blecher families supports Gene’s decision to join the cheer-leading team only for the silk cheer shorts.untitled_3

“Still from Bob’s Burger’s, “Gene It On” (Season 4, Episode 20, 2004.)

Throughout the rest of the show, Gene’s character in this particular episode shows how the family accepts Gene’s coming out, but sadly Gene’s character does not stay this way throughout this  season, but does change. Gene is a special character in the show, because he seems to always challenges the norm in the and refutes stereotypical gender roles. In later seasons Gene becomes more gender fluid than in earlier seasons, which to me seems to be more progressive than most animated sitcoms on air today.

-Shayla Hampton

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4 Responses to Nothing More Progressive than a Burger

  1. mediaphiles says:

    This show is probably one if my favorite cartoons and I love Louise as a character. I like the connection you made with gender roles and Gene. I appreciate how honest Gene is and how open he is with his family. I also love how his family always supports him no matter what crazy thing he tries to do. The Belchers actually serve as a great role model family.
    -Laya Mohan

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I love this show as well. I love the way the show portrays early adolescent sexuality in Tina and Louise without being condescending – I find the way people treat tween pop groups and trends as stupid to be very misogynistic, so the agency they give Tina without mocking her, but still being funny, really speaks to me. I think cartoons lend themselves to subversive takes on constructs like gender, sexuality, etc because reality is represented from an inherently false medium.

    Elyse Conklin

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I was actually going to write about Bob’s Burgers this week myself…until I saw someone else had already done it. I’ll save it for another week. I similarly also really love the way this show deals with early adolescent sexuality in all its child characters — Tina’s awkward budding sexuality, Gene’s gender fluidity, Louise’s aversion to any sort of romantic inclinations — and also how accepting the rest of the family is. Like, it’s not even a thing. In other shows, Tina’s butt obsession might get her a talking-to from her parents about how inappropriate that is or how she’s too young to think about that stuff, or Gene wearing a dress or trying out for the cheerleading team might concern a hyper-masculine father. But in Bob’s Burgers, these things are normal. The writers don’t feel the need to draw attention to them or have the family talk about them. These are just the way that these children are, and they are totally accepted for that.

    –Kevin Pabst

  4. marymdalton says:

    Excellent post!

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