A musical spectacular centered around boy-crazy teen Tina Belcher kicks off a new season of Fox’s animated comedy Bob’s Burgers on Sunday, with a smorgasbord of adventures lying in wait for the misfit family.
The Belchers — comprising of long-suffering patriarch Bob, vivacious wife Linda, awkward Tina, eccentric Gene, and precocious, bunny-ears-clad Louise — rarely leave their sleepy hometown and burger bubble, but that doesn’t stop them from getting entangled in an array of colorful situations.
Halloween will mine the tropes of a slasher movie as the Belcher kids try to save their candy from being stolen during a trick-or-treat extravaganza. Thanksgiving will see the Belchers try to save a turkey, and Christmas will find Louise at war once again with Logan and the older kids over sledding turf.
Nestled amongst The Simpsons and Family Guy on Fox’s Sunday night line-up, Bob’s Burgers’ Belcher clan have emerged as a model working-class American family.
“At its core, the show is about a family who accepts each other for who they are despite their differences,” H. Jon Benjamin, who voices Bob, told EW.
Benjamin, who also voices other supporting characters such as Jimmy Jr., said that sometimes he’s been “directed to be less cynical” towards his kids and wife Linda (voiced by John Roberts), but that as Bob, he appreciates being the “rudder of the show.”
“The Belchers move through struggles and interpersonal conflicts very well together … at the end of every show is a positive resolution,” he said.
Unlike other animated shows that often thrust characters into wildly extreme situations such as The Simpsons’ patriarch Homer going into space or Family Guy’s Stewie Griffin time-travelling, Bob’s Burgers keeps its residents grounded and its scope local — “like one year over and over again, like Groundhog Day,” creator Loren Bouchard explained.
“All the yearning and wanting and pain our characters are feeling, we need to leave them right there, and we can’t really advance them,” Bouchard said. “To the extent that some of the other shows can go big, it leaves smaller story-telling for us to fool around with so we can keep exploring the smallest of events.”
Each of the Belcher kids will get their standout episodes this season. The 13-year-old Tina (voiced by Dan Mintz) lives out her fantasies in Sunday’s musical premiere, and later in the season, her permanent (and mostly unrequited) crush Jimmy Jr. will have a chance to redeem himself after breaking her heart in last season’s Valentine’s Day episode.
“Jimmy Jr. was too much of a jerk,” Bouchard said. “What we need from him is to have him occasionally maybe not paying attention and occasionally distracted. He wants to spend time with Zeke, but he can’t be so irredeemably obnoxious as he was in that episode and still be worthy of Tina’s attention.”
Middle child Gene (voiced by Eugene Mirman), often happy to be the quirkily confident pawn in his family’s affairs, will have a mushroom-hunting adventure in the woods with Bob. And in an upcoming November episode, the 11-year-old’s friendship with classmates Alex and Courtney will be examined.
“He doesn’t necessarily get as many stories centered on him as his sisters but that’s ok, I don’t think the audience minds as long as we do take care of Gene and give him those episodes that do celebrate him,” Bouchard said.
Kristen Schaal, who voices everyone’s favorite sassy 9-year-old trickster Louise, says she “continues to find vulnerabilities in Louise that are always really touching because she is so tough.” In the Christmas episode, Schaal says Louise “genuinely gets scared, and we see her get terrified.”
“She’s so smart, and I get to be at the top of my game intelligence-wise, but also get to be child-like at the same time,” Schaal says. “She’s quick to her emotions, and that’s fun for me, to act out a whole well of anger.”
Sunday’s big musical premiere is a stepping-stone to the Bob’s Burgers movie in June 2020, which will be a big screen musical extravaganza that may answer some long-standing questions about the show’s lead characters.
“We need to tell a big story, and we’re very interested in getting to some emotional places,” Bouchard said. “We do want to get to some real feels and some backstory and especially look a little bit at why Louise wears the hat and using that as a way to look at a bunch of things.”
Louise will be reunited with her beloved nightlight toy Kuchi Kopi in another dream sequence, and Bouchard said music will play a big part in the story.
“We want it to be a gorgeous experience for your ears as well as your eyes,” he said.