Bob's Burgers: A Feminist Crusade

"Bob’s Burgers" is the kind of show the American public has been craving since the beginning of television production. It offers relatable content with the power to provoke change. Aside from being comedic gold, the show is also phenomenally feminist; breaking gender stereotypes, embracing marginalized populations and encouraging the idea of being different. It’s not an in-your-face kind of message. These positive social justice ideas underlie every part of the show in a subtle way. This is especially fantastic considering the amount of influence media has on a society. Most cartoons with adult humor usually cater to a strictly-male audiences and consistently aim to undermine women. Most sitcoms stick to strict character stereotypes that often do not promote a positive image for women. For example, there is typically a ditsy female character, a single chauvinist charmer, or the bossy and nagging mother. All of these character archetypes serve to maintain mythical norms about reality that is actually the farthest thing from the truth. The characters in "Bob’s Burgers", however, break down these characterizations and in doing so, create a totally kickass, new approach on social norms.

Bob Belcher offers a new perspective on the male psyche. Although he fills his typical father role, he offers a sense of open mindedness as well as acknowledging male oppression. He is accepting of his daughter's pubescent rampage for butts and boys. This differs from the usual overprotective father archetype where the daughter serves as an image of innocence he must protect. Instead, he accepts Tina’s budding sexuality and allows her to explore herself on new dimensions.

The mother in the series, Linda Belcher, is different than any other female character on television. She is strong willed and opinionated. Not to mention she is probably the most relatable, realistic character. In today’s society Linda’s conversations would not be deemed as “lady-like”; however, it is through her vocabulary that she is able to blur the lines between conventional and unconventional. Her parenting style creates an open environment with her children by discussing controversial topics such as sex and drug use. She never criticizes her children’s actions; regardless of how medial. She supports her daughter Tina’s passion for writing erotic fan fiction. Not only does she defy parental conventions but she also brings awareness towards women’s rights and the problematic but prevalent subjection of women. In one episode, a man attempts to seduce her in which she head-butts him, eats all of his food and yells, “Women don’t want to be tricked into having sex!” It is through these hilarious yet crucial scenes that aid in informing the many adults and children that watch it the problems women face.

                                                                      

"The Brady Bunch", "Lizzie McGuire" and "Hannah Montana" never truly depicted what it is like being a pubescent teen. For that matter, there has never really been an accurate depiction of the struggles a teenage girl undergoes. However, "Bob’s Burgers" does just that! The oldest daughter, Tina, is a hormonal, boy-crazed teenager who writes erotic zombie fan fiction and dreams about Jimmy Jr’s butt. Tina is not afraid of her sexuality and embraces it. This juxtaposes the classic teenage boy archetype where there is always one boy who flirts with the other women in the show and often times it is borderline creepy. Tina steps up and fills this role in a respectable manner that points out the fact that women also experience sexuality. It is through her portrayal and her own acceptance of her own self that the audience is able to see her as a sexual subject instead of a sexual object.  Which in most cases, is not true.

The only other male character is Gene, and he is the King of Gender Bending.  He is very much a boy in terms of his actions. His interests include playing inappropriate noises in inappropriate situations; however, in the same regard, he is very much in tune with his feminine side. To Gene, there is no determined gender specific action or item but merely he embraces his interests regardless of societal limitations. He often refers to his maternal side and claims he has his mother’s birthing hips. He wears women’s clothing throughout the series including a women’s bathing suit to match his mother and sister.  Not to mention, for Halloween, he transforms himself into Queen Latifah and asks upon her to give him strength.

                                                                      

Louise is the youngest and the most mischievous. She represents the new generation of women. Her world is not dictated by dolls or the color pink. Instead, she uses her natural wit and charm to get what she wants without the slightest thought of being "bossy." Louise runs her own underground casino, crashes her own slumber parties and challenges authority any and every time she sees fit. She is outspoken and fearless. She wears what she wants: sporting her own style of a green dress and pink bunny ears. She defies all aspects of traditional gender roles and in doing so serves as an example of an empowered female at only the age of seven. 

                                                                    

It's evident that "Bob's Burgers" is doing something special. Through the writer's characterization of Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene and Louise, a common feminist theme emerges. However, this theme is subtle but sheds light on current issues and hope for the future. In a lot of ways, Bob's Burgers serves as the antithesis of today's modern family. In this family, the children speak freely, the parents push their children to pursue their dreams no matter how trivial and the parents do not dictate their children's lives by gender. So, Gene is free to explore his feminine side, Tina is free to explore her love for boys and butts and Louise is free to explore the world through her "take charge" attitude. "Bob's Burgers" may be the only show currently out that blatantly points out these issues and offers such an outlet for feminist ideas.