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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bob’s Burgers: “Boyz 4 Now”

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There are countless things to admire about Bob’s Burgers, especially during this particular season, but to me, the show’s biggest strength has always been its portrayal of the tween/teen years. Those years are a time when just about everything that happens seems confusing, weird, and cringe-worthy, but a few years later, you’ll look back and realize that, well, everything was confusing, weird, and cringe-worthy, but it was also often very funny—which makes it great material for a sitcom. This is primarily seen through Tina’s bumbling awkwardness, but tonight’s episode shifted the focus to 9-year-old Louise as she dealt with a very relatable adolescent event: her first crush.

The episode centers on the two Belcher daughters seeing a boy band in concert. Because of the boy band resurgence that’s occurring right now, parodying them might be a little too easy, but it’s still funny, thanks to some spot-on details, ranging from the different roles of each member (one is so “extreme” his dog is a wolf) to their over-the-top entrances and even their silly name: Boyz 4 Now. To no one’s surprise, Tina’s a huge boy band fan and is incredibly excited (or at least monotonously excited, according to the yell she’s been perfecting all week), but, also to no one’s surprise, Louise is firmly against going. Louise almost gets her wish when it turns out that Aunt Gayle can no longer chaperone, but after seeing how unhappy Tina is, Louise decides that the two are going anyway. It’s a somewhat inconsequential plot point because we know they’re definitely getting to the concert somehow, but I always enjoy seeing the strong friendship between the siblings. As Gene once put it, they are Belchers from the womb to the tomb!

At the concert, Louise is her usual self and makes fun of both the band and their fans (“What’s wrong with you? They’re just boys!”), but it only takes one look at the baby of the group, the perfectly named Boo Boo, before she falls head-over-heels in love. There is a specific kind of fervor reserved for tweens falling for boy bands, and Bob’s Burgers absolutely nails it. It only takes minutes before Louise’s cynicism disappears and her disinterest is suddenly replaced with a desire to know absolutely every single thing about Boo Boo. She sings along, she defends his looks, and she tries to subtly pry information out of Tina. Admittedly, it’s such an accurate representation of anyone entering a boy band fandom that watching the episode made me secretly want to break out so many old embarrassing CDs.

However, Louise is still Louise. She’s the tough-as-nails, chaotic, and unpredictable Belcher child, so she’s not exactly going to start doodling hearts in her binder. Instead, she takes the popular “pushing your crush down on the playground” approach and becomes obsessed with smacking Boo Boo. When Louise is finally face-to-face with the object of her affection, she finds herself uncharacteristically tongue-tied. After stuttering out a few non-words (a moment that made me groan with understanding), Louise resorts to smacking Boo Boo right across his face. It’s very funny, but, more importantly, it’s very Louise.

“Boyz 4 U” is full of funny moments throughout. Gene’s entire subplot about competing in the table setting—ahem, tablescaping—regionals” is equally hilarious and absurd (is it strange that I want H. Jon Benjamin yelling “Show her the tampon straw!” to be my ringtone?). Not to mention, we get some choice Linda lines, Bob’s competitiveness, a backseat full of hot dogs, and an endearingly creepy Tina sleeping in the band’s gross sweatbands. But aside from the jokes, “Boyz 4 U” was most successful at building the relationship between Tina and Louise. Louise is often seen as fearless, but her three-hour crush throws her for such a loop that she emerges with a newfound respect for Tina who deals with this every day. Tina has tons of experience with that lovesick feeling, whereas this is all new for Louise. Fortunately, there is no one better to guide Louise through adolescent crushes than her older sister.

Stray observations:

  • “I’m no hero. I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else.” is definitely my new favorite Tina line and one that I’d like printed on a t-shirt ASAP.
  • I could listen to Louise describe her crush all day: “Cute? He’s the reason faces were invented!” “I just want to slap his hideous beautiful face!”
  • Biggest unexpected laugh of the night: Gayle’s cat wearing goggles.
  • It’s unreal how great Bob’s Burgers is with music, no matter what the genre.
  • How perfect was the scene where Tina and Louise both groaned on the floor?