There are so many funny moments to be had in each episode of Bob’s Burgers, but I’m starting to think that my favorites are when Bob has conversations with inanimate objects. It’s his version of perfection—having a chat with someone interested in the same things, who laughs at his jokes, and actually seems engaged in the discussion. He may love his family, but Bob knows what he’s missing out on.
In this week’s episode, his new imaginary friends are the plants that he’s growing in a nearby community garden. It’s long been the dream of this “urban restaurateur” to let his green thumb fly, but because of the issues between Louise and the son of the gardenmaster, Bob keeps getting his application rejected (“I did tell some jokes in there. When it asked ‘What are your hobbies?’ I said, ‘Beets me.’”). Out of desperation, he agrees to let his daughter’s arch nemesis Logan (voiced with the perfect pre-teen combination of snottiness and disregard by Kurt Braunohler) work at the restaurant. The kid will have an extracurricular activity to use on an application to a pre-college summer program; Bob will finally get to use the trowel and shears he bought five years ago (“People asked me, ‘Why are you buying those things when you don’t have a garden?’ I told them, ‘I’ll grow into it.’”).
The arrangement is great for Gene and Tina, who get a bro, and a source of information about teen boys, respectively. But for Louise and Linda, they couldn’t be worse off. Their arch enemies are now always around and causing them all kinds of agitation. And it throws the family dynamic into disarray with poor Bob trying to keep everyone happy so he can keep himself happy and tending to his plants (or as he calls them “Bob’s Beauties”).
Bob’s Burgers has often achieved that nice balance of injecting little graceful, heartfelt moments into the mix without overshadowing the absurdity. This episode was a perfect example of that, with Bob and Louise coming to an understanding about their respective desires, and each realizing how ridiculous they were acting in the midst of the chaos. It was a tender moment but undercut just so by the fact that Bob was squeezed into the small opening of a locked fence gate while he was opening up to his daughter.
More and more, the Belchers are proving to be one of the best families on TV, and they are certainly filling the void left behind on FOX by their untimely cancellation of Arrested Development. They’re just as crude, goofy, insulting, and strangely supportive as the Bluths were. Yet Bob’s Burgers managed to avoid the axe, and is gearing up for a sixth season of silliness and solemnity. That’s the beauty of being an animated show though; people are more willing to accept the slinging of verbal barbs and strange behavior from cartoons, than they are from good looking, real life actors.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.