Bob’s Burgers just isn’t the show it used to be.

I still remember the first time I watched Bob’s Burgers. It was the beginning of 2011, I was sitting in my friend’s basement, most likely halfway to drunk. We were channel surfing, and I stumbled across the first episode of the series, “Human Flesh”. I was immediately hooked.

From there I made a point to catch the new episodes every Sunday night.

The show was hilarious. Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) is the straight-laced owner of “Bob’s Burgers”, a struggling restaurant in a small New Jersey town near the ocean. His wife Linda (John Roberts) is usually waiting on customers, and is often the foil to Bob’s serious and grounded nature through her bubbly personality and comedic flights of fancy. The couple have three kids: The oldest is Tina (Dan Mintz), an awkward and overly hormonal 13 year old girl with a penchant for ponies and boys (particularly Jimmy Pesto Jr., son of Bob’s competitor). Then there’s Gene (Eugene Mirman), a creative but eccentric 11 year old boy with a fart noise-making keyboard. The youngest, Louise (Kristin Schaal), is a bunny ear-wearing 9 year old girl who’s often smarter than even the adults.

Even the supporting characters were great. Regular customer and handyman Teddy (Larry Murphy) provided a bit of subtle dark humor with his perpetual loneliness and desire to be liked by everyone. Bob’s rival Jimmy Pesto (originally Jay Johnston, replaced by Eric Bauza) brought the heat with his snarky insults about Bob’s lack of customers. The entirety of Wagstaff School also provided a colorful cast of characters for the Belcher kids to interact with.

All of these characters were entertaining. They were all hilarious without being annoying over the top caricatures. This unique and interesting assortment of characters made their small New Jersey boardwalk town alive and vibrant.

Another thing the show did was throw in musical bits every now and then, songs created specifically for that particular episode the show. The songs were creative and funny. I remember one of the first Bob’s Burgers musical bits I ever saw. It was in the season 1 episode “Art Crawl”. In the episode, Linda’s sister Gayle (Megan Mullally) wants to hang up paintings in the restaurant for “Art Week”, a town art crawl. However, the paintings are of various animals shown from behind, with emphasis on their anuses. When Linda sees this she freaks out, and we’re treated to a short song called “Butts, Butts, Butts”. The song is basically just the words “Butts, butts, butts” over and over again while a bunch of animals parade around in the style of “Heffalumps and Woozles” from Winnie the Pooh, but it was so absurd that it was hilarious.

Other episodes incorporated specially made songs, and even sometimes covers of popular songs. At the end of one episode, Louise and Bob do an abbreviated cover of Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell”. Kristin Schaal and H. Jon Benjamin singing a Meatloaf song was something I never knew I wanted until I heard it.

When Bob’s Burgers first came out, it was clever, fresh, and funny. But after 14 seasons and almost 300 episodes, the show has grown bland, boring, and stale.

A good long-running show will continually improve on itself, finding new and clever ways to entertain the audience while still not being afraid to call back to older gags from time to time. You’re essentially trying to adapt your show to reach new viewers while still giving the longtime viewers what got them watching in the first place. This is something that gets harder and harder to do the longer the show goes on, especially if your show is a sitcom. Take The Simpsons for example. The Simpsons has been going for almost 800 episodes in 35 seasons over the course of 35 years (longer if you include the Tracey Ullman bits). While it’s still a very popular show, many longtime viewers have criticized the show for its change of tone and arguable decline in quality, notably around the tenth season. Are they right? I’d say yes, but people are still watching the show so I guess that’s just, like, my opinion, man. No matter how you feel about the direction the show has gone, you can’t argue that The Simpsons hasn’t continually tried to adapt its show to fit changing times and reach new viewers.

Bob’s Burgers has ran for 14 seasons now, and rather than continue to improve upon itself and refine its style the show has allowed itself to become a watered down shell of what it once was. Rather than take any risks and push the envelope like in earlier seasons, the showrunners seem content to simply rest on their laurels instead of allowing the show to evolve and grow any further.

While the other characters have also become empty husks of what they used to be, Louise is the most noticable. Once the poster child for mayhem and madness with her clever schemes and desire to wreak havoc upon those around her, Louise has been reduced to mildly ruffling some feathers and being sarcastic, while also usually being the voice of reason that reminds the other kids to do what’s right at the end of the day. You don’t hire Kristin Schaal to play a slightly rambunctious but still behaved kid, you let her do what she does best: Fly off the rails and go over-the-top balls to the wall. Early Louise would have dedicated her entire life to making someone like current Louise miserable. Old Louise was constantly dialed up to 10. Current Louise is at most a 5 or 6. She’s just way too tame and toned down now.

Bob has also been toned down. Bob was always the straight man, but only up to a certain point. With the right provocation, Bob could become just as crazy and outlandish as any of the other characters. In earlier episodes Bob did things like moon the health inspector, let Moolisa the cow into the apartment, and lashing out at the entire town over a lobster festival. Current Bob seems kind of apathetic, and H. Jon Benjamin’s performance sounds like he’s just going through the motions at this point (I have a similar feeling about the more recent seasons of Archer). Current Bob lacks personality and feels like he’s only there to be the foil to Linda and the kids.

The show also relies way too much on fart jokes. It’s true that Gene’s schtick has always been the fart noises on his keyboard, and he’s an 11 year old boy so it would make sense that he makes a lot of fart jokes. The problem is that now every other episode is nothing but poop, fart, and butt jokes. And it’s not just Gene, other characters are thrown into the scatological mix. Entire episodes revolve around Linda or Louise using the bathroom (or not being able to, in Louise’s case). In another episode where Bob is trying to bond with Louise, he remarks that her farts smell similar to his. Bob is even implied to have a fart fetish in another episode. What’s going on with the Bob’s Burgers writing team? Are they letting their kids write the episodes now? Does one of the writers have some kind of fetish that they feel the need to constantly insert?

I will give Bob’s Burgers some credit though, and commend them for the fact that they haven’t yet resorted to things like shock humor (Family Guy), zaniness (American Dad), or celebrity cameos (The Simpsons). The show still remains relatively grounded in a way that very few animated shows have ever even attempted. The characters are all still somewhat relatable people with relatable problems and realistic reactions to those problems. Early episodes of Bob’s Burgers are comparable to King of the Hill, albeit just a little more intense and exaggerated. Which makes sense, because Jim Dauterive was a producer and writer on both shows.

Unfortunately, Dauterive left Bob’s Burgers in 2020. Since then the show seems to have lost most of its flavor, and has become just another bland and boring show that would rather play it safe and stick to a simplistic formula of potty jokes and cringe humor. While it still maintains some of the wholesomeness that originally made it good, the gags have become trite and weak, the characters cardboard cutouts of what they once were, and the overall magic is just gone.

It’s time to end Bob’s Burgers while it’s still at least somewhat watchable. The show is already past its prime, but it hasn’t become a total stinker yet. Don’t completely ruin this show by letting it become another Simpsons, put it out of its misery now while people still remember the good episodes more than the bad ones.

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By Angry_Jerk

The CEO/Editor-in-chief of AJnet, and the current king of internet ranting. Hailing from the fine village of Northeast Philadelphia, AJ has been creating content on the internet for over 15 years. None of it has really been funny or entertaining, but he keeps trying anyway. When he’s not creating new articles for the site, he can be found hitting the weights, watching anime, or playing retro video games.