What do we really know about Teddy? This week’s Bob’s Burgers aims to answer that question by throwing him into a tough spot: playing babysitter to Louise, Gene, and Tina. The resulting fiasco is surprisingly humanizing, and it sort of makes you wonder: why was he so eager to watch the kids? His ability to put his foot down while still make such an effort to show warmth and interest in the Belcher children brought dimension to his character in a way we haven’t seen before. But ultimately the questions “Uncle Teddy” raised in me made me sort of sad. Teddy seems to have so little in his life, and the Belchers are at the center of what he does have.
Now that I’ve sufficiently sucked the funny out of TV’s most consistent animated comedy, let’s get to it. This episode’s first half was filled with a few gems that slipped right by if you didn’t watch closely. As Bob and Linda prepare for a romantic weekend away at a burger convention, their babysitter Jen bails with a classic excuse: “I must have [forgotten] because I’m in France with my family, bye Linda!” After going through the mental rolodex of potential choices (“What, people in a cult can’t babysit?” Linda asks accusingly w/r/t/ cousin Vanessa), Bob and Linda leave the kids in Teddy’s care. Mostly because he’s free, and Bob can’t miss meeting up with his internet message board friends and Linda can’t miss her appointment with Bob’s privates. (Am I the only one who cannot imagine Bob Belcher using a computer, let alone obsessing over a message board? I mean, Bob’s IRL universe is fairly narrow, and it’s clear he knows about things outside of that worldview, so I suppose it has to come from somewhere. But Bob’s Burgers feels so removed from the internet.)
And so “Burger Bob” heads off to the rinky-dink conference only to discover that he’s both the bully and the pariah of his message board community. “Beefer Sutherland” puts him in his place, a moment that really flips the underdog narrative largely associated with Bob, despite him being a sore loser and a stubborn guy. Bob and Line forego the conference mixer for a sexy time in the hot tub, until his haters want to use the jacuzzi too. A war erupts, and it ends with a hot tub full of mayo and relish, which… if that doesn’t make you throw up in your mouth, you should think about combined it with the mental image of Gene caressing his new hairball pet and you’ll get there.
The grown-ups’ story isn’t really that interesting, to be honest, it’s more about the kids’ mischief. Tina’s hormones are raging AGAIN, but at least there’s a new dude for her to obsess over. Reggie’s Deli gets a new delivery boy, Jonas, with blonde, surfer locks, and it’s as though Jimmy Jr.’s butt never shook. “Cold cuts just got hot,” Tina coos. Jonas shows a smidgen of reciprocation by blowing a kiss, which I want so much for Tina sometimes, I forget she’s only 13. But it becomes clear he’s only using Tina for her burgers, and sadly that isn’t a euphemism. After Tina meets Jonas at the deli (love how she asks for an order of literally whatever) and accompanies him on his motor bike, Sandwich Surfer suggests a “gathering” at Bob’s Burgers with his doofus friends. Teddy breaks it up, which only fuels Tina’s lusty fire, inspiring her to sneak out of the house later that night. In this sense, the plot was totally ordinary; rule number one of hormonally-driven teen angst: parental banning of the object of affection will, in fact, backfire.
Meanwhile, Teddy makes a sincere effort to bond with Gene and Louise, who are more interested in the fancy plumbing tools he uses to unclog the sink. (Kids! They’re weird!) Eventually Teddy notices Tina snuck out, and because this is a 22-minute program that requires problem and its tidy resolution, he tracks her down at the abandoned lighthouse just as she’s being apprehended by a park ranger. I expect we’ll see a lot more of this kind of hormone-fueled mischief from Tina, and I’m glad to see adults acknowledging it openly (“She’s a mixed-up kid who’s going through a ton of puberty right now,” Teddy notes). Most of all, I’m glad Teddy threw Sandwich Surfer’s motor bike in the ocean. BOYS, BE NICE TO TINA.