Bob’s Burgers: S11E11 “Romancing the Beef”

Episode Grade: B

“We came so close to success, I smelled it. It smelled weird. Good weird.”

By this point, we know that Bob’s Burgers has a weird relationship with success. The Belchers are in theory familiar with the concept, and ostensibly it’s something they’re working towards, but somehow it never quite happens for them, for reasons self-inflicted as often as not. Usually, as we discussed last episode (over two months ago, but who’s counting?), the culprit is Bob and his deep-seated mistrust of good fortune, but however it happens longtime viewers know the drill: they’re going to blow this somehow.

The ingredients were all certainly in place for things to go wrong tonight. We had Teddy haphazardly remodeling the dining room. We had Gene and Louise actually involving themselves in the running of the restaurant. We had Linda involving herself in diners’ dates. We had Bob working outside of his burger-lane. We had Hugo, just generally. On top of all that, we had Bob and Linda slowly talking themselves out of what has to have been their most successful night in ages.

I’ll be honest: by this point, I was getting a little irritated. We were never in danger of “Pro Tiki, Con Tiki” levels of self-sabotage, but at this point in the show’s run watching the Belchers shoot themselves in the foot has more or less lost whatever charm it once had. Running a struggling restaurant is deeply embedded in this show’s DNA, sure, but failure gets old on TV same as in real life. Up until the very end, it seemed like we were headed for another blown night and some kind of sappy resolution about the real meaning of Valentine’s Day not being about money or whatever.

Except then we didn’t. It’s strange how the last-minute appearance of a never-before seen one off character can change the whole tenor of an episode, but there you go. Hugo gets his date, Bob and Linda get to stay open, and a roomful of diners don’t get their evenings ruined. Everybody wins for once.

Over in the B-plot, Tina managed to subvert conventional Bob’s Burgers plotting as well. Only thing here is that I’d kind of rather she hadn’t. Her Jimmy Jr. fixation is another element deeply embedded in the show’s DNA, but they’ve gotten around it before. It did play nicely against expectations that normally boy-crazy Tina would go to such lengths to avoid making out on Valentine’s Day, but then you remember it’s all in the service of her relationship with a boy who does literally the bare minimum to keep her interested. Austin seemed nice enough.

Overall, a solid Bob’s Valentine’s entry, probably coming right down the middle in terms of the highs and lows they’ve hit on the holiday.

Dumb, Desperate Love Money

  • Storefront: Owed to Joy Personal Loans
  • Exterminator: Slay Anything Pest Control
  • On the off-chance anyone from the show happens to read this, can we pump the brakes on Gene’s Linda fixation? It’s getting extra-creepy lately.
  • Relatedly, I enjoyed Jimmy Pesto telling Bob he was proud of him and actually seeming somewhat sincere about it.
  • Hah. You’re standing in your own way.” Trev is wiser than he knows.
  • “Sure. I bet whoever put them in didn’t even attach them, because he didn’t know you guys too well back then. Plus, he might’ve been going through a divorce, so he cut some corners on some jobs sometimes.” It makes me very happy to learn that Teddy helped build the restaurant, and I’m not entirely sure why.
  • “Did we just marry Satan?” Jocelyn was a reliable one liner machine tonight.
  • “Is that what cocaine does? Are there any downsides?”
  • One odd note was that Louise was oddly invested in the restaurant’s success tonight. I kept waiting for an ulterior motive.