(For the next several days, some of our writers will be swapping duties on some of our most popular shows. Some of them will like what they see, but for different reasons. Some of them will have vastly different opinions from the regular reviewers. And some of them won’t be all that different. It’s Second Opinions Week at TV Club.)
It’s not a stretch to say that Bob’s Burgers features some of the strangest characters currently on television. In fact, I’d say the biggest charm of the show is that every week is basically a judgment-free celebration of pure weirdness. The show is especially wonderful when it’s centered on the children, which is unsurprising, partly because Loren Bouchard also co-created Home Movies (a show that I’d put in my desert-island top five because I believe it depicts growing up in such an accurate and honest way that it’s almost eerie to watch at times), but mostly because the young Belcher trio are full of these eccentric and manic traits that you can only get away with in life for so long. Plus, the children are hilarious and just plain fun to watch. But the show has always struggled a little bit more with the parents, in particular Linda, who has always been a hard character to pin down. She’s hilarious in small doses, and she’s optimistic and endlessly patient with her entire family, but too often her basic character trait in any given episode seems to just be “total pushover” (or, maybe, “prone to breaking out in song”), and that’s that. She’s been slowly coming into her own this season (“Mother Daughter Laser Razor” immediately jumps to mind, though the success of that episode is due to the unlikely pairing of her and Louise) and “Lindapendent Woman” is the first episode where she really shines on her own.
When the restaurant is in financial trouble, as it so often is, Linda decides to help out the family by getting a part-time job at a grocery store. (She’s wooed by the flexible schedule and the dance breaks.) The immediate repercussions aren’t too bad—thermostat problems and extra cleaning for Bob—but it all culminates in the highlight of the episode: a short but pretty genius musical number. I’m always a fan of the songs on Bob’s Burgers, but this one was especially great as it used a splitscreen to highlight the new changes in Bob’s and Linda’s workdays. It’s a smart way to juxtapose Linda’s proud and independent declaration that “this is working!” with Bob’s sad and lonely lament of the very same statement. But after a fight where Bob gives Linda a less-than-perfect performance review (an 8/10), Linda quits the restaurant to work full-time at the grocery store.
From there, the story escalates quickly. The show takes Linda’s aforementioned pushover character trait and multiples it by 10 until it ultimately breaks her. At first, Linda agrees to take over one employee’s duties, but soon, she has somehow sent the entire staff home, which results in her attempting to run the entire store. She enlists the help of her children, who do more harm than good (in one of my favorite gags, Louise uses the price gun to mark all of the alcohol $1 per bottle), and the grocery store becomes totally chaotic, even reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic world. Eventually, Bob shows up and the two make-up via store intercom—a great example of the way the writers often interject some heart and sappiness into the show while keeping it funny enough to not be overrun by cheesiness—and she quits. It is an easy fix to everything, and Bob will forget this next week, but it still works. What I really liked about the episode is that it didn’t try to change Linda by having her put her foot down and try to prove she’s not just an overly nice pushover. Rather, Linda stayed true to her roots while also showing Bob why these traits are important to have and why it makes them work together so well, both as a couple and as co-workers in the restaurant.
As for the kids, they were on the back burner for much of the episode, but there were still some great Tina scenes. (Is there a such thing as a bad Tina scene?) After falling in like with a stranger in the dairy department, Tina finds herself in an updated, gender-reversed, and pretty gross version of Cinderella as she searches for a boy based on his used Band-Aid. She eventually finds him, and, while he’s no Jimmy Pesto Jr., it’s still nice to see the two most put-upon Belcher women so happy at the end of the day.
- Louise waits for a fight to go down: “Hold on. Let me get comfy. Evaluate your wife.”
- Bob’s perplexed reaction to the guys’ “raunchy locker room talk” that they describe their testicles with a movie title is the same reaction I have to similar Twitter hashtags.
- So many of the grocery store scenes, especially toward the beginning of the episode, were so similar to my own past retail jobs that it made me queasy.
- Admittedly, just about all the Steve Miller Band references went over my head, but the one I did get was “Fly Like An Eagle” because of my affection for the Space Jam soundtrack.
- Gene: “I’m 11, and I still like Mom.”
- Josh’s matter-of-fact reaction to his turtle bite—“I was being a jerk. He was just being a turtle” was maybe my favorite line delivery of the night.
- There has to be an all-musical Bob’s Burgers episode in the future, right?