Episode Grade: C+
Since I’ve been doing these reviews, I’ve tried a few times to come up with a solid set of criteria for what constitutes a C-level episode of Bob’s Burgers. It’s inexact, but what I usually end up settling on is “If I’m watching reruns at night and it comes up, I change the channel”. Honestly, there’s not many of this type of episode out there. Even mediocre Bob’s episodes tend to improve on rewatch, so ones that don’t even merit that are few and far between (I’d say the last one was probably The Grand Mama-pest Hotel, which had some similarities to tonight that I’ll get to). Put simply, there’s got to be a fundamental problem with the episode’s construction.
It would be easy, and maybe not incorrect, to say tonight’s problem was just “Gayle” and leave it at that but the issues with this episode go a little deeper and get twisted up with some of this show’s bad habits we’ve discussed before. Bob’s Burgers‘ general positive tone is a feature, not a bug, but there are times when the “Everything/Everyone is awesome” vibes start to grate. By this episode’s resolution, wherein the mean ol’ blogger actually doesn’t want to be mean and was actually inspired by Gayle, we were well over that line. The main problem with Gayle is that the character is a selfish weirdo who’s only able to live the way she does because her sister is constantly running interference for her. That we are asked to believe an otherwise normal seeming person would somehow be inspired by her and her sad workshop is ludicrous. A common complaint about Bob’s from non-fans is that it’s humor is bloodless and it goes overboard with the positive tone. On the basis of this episode, I really couldn’t argue.
Another issue with Gayle is that she brings out the worst in Linda, already the trickiest Belcher (see also: Mama-pest). I identified pretty hard with Bob in the opening scene tonight as he all but begged Linda not to get involved in Gayle’s nonsense. We’ve been down this road with Linda before, and it’s never any fun. Tonight, it gets to the point where she’s fighting a stranger in a yurt. This is the character we’re supposed to be on the side of.
Meanwhile, Bob, Gene, and Louise’s b-plot back at the restaurant had some promise, and probably could’ve been the basis of a much better episode itself. Rudy, Andy, and Ollie all had some nice moments, and Bob’s exasperation with his youngest children’s total refusal to work was fun, but the whole thing felt a little slight. That’s generally not a problem for a b-plot, but when the a-plot is having such an off night there’s a bit more pressure to deliver the goods.
- Storefront: A Small Price Toupee Discount Hair Pieces
- Exterminator: Mite Club
- Louise assuming Gayle had stolen the cat served as a friendly reminder that, on top of everything else, Gayle stole Mr. Business.
- “We did find a lovely garden, and the roses were in bloom.” “Also we found a dead squirrel and I felt nothing inside, and now I don’t know what’s going on with me.” You know it’s an odd episode when Andy and Ollie of all people get the line of the night.
- “It’s like she goes to things just so she can write about how stupid they are.” – The Avocado, or at the very least The Comic Strip Club.
- “I get it. Riding the rails, eating beans. The life.” See, now I want to watch The Kids Rob a Train again.
- “I think that cat has a knife.”