Bob’s Burgers exists in a universe unto itself, and at times in can feel like many aspects of that world differ from real life (most notably, the lack of technology). On this week’s episode, “The Equestranauts,” this was not the case. The Belchers poked merciless fun at My Little Pony ‘Brony’ culture, and though the best one-liners were mostly packed toward the front of the episode, the concept’s joke kept the episode galloping along. Instead of a B-plot this week, the entire episode was dedicating to debasing Bronies — and rightfully so. There has been too much curiosity-masquerading-as-celebration of this bizarre subculture.
Among her other pop culture obsessions, Tina apparently loves the Equestranauts, a TV show/toy line closely resembling My Little Pony. Tina, Gene, Louise, and Linda hit up an Equestranauts convention where Tina expects she’ll meet other likeminded preteens who’ve not yet realized they’re too old to play with dolls and cutesy action figures. Instead Tina finds that gross older dudes populate the conference, dubbed “Equesticles” (“it’s for guys that like horses… called Equesticles…because they have testicles,” Teddy explains to Bob). “Does anyone else think these girls look like men?” Gene asks. “We discovered a new kind of man?!” Louise responds.
Discouraged that Equestranauts merch is priced out of her budget, Tina makes friends with a small group of Equesticles — including the fantastically-named “Pony Danza” — and briefly feels like she belongs. (It’s sort of incredible how little it takes to make Tina feel kinship with others; it’s proof enough that she’s not an outsider by choice.) The group’s leader, Bronconious, easily wins Tina’s trust (“look at all you’ve accomplished, with your bangs and your glasses,” he half-heartedly tells her), and convinces her to trade her vintage Chariot horse for a new sparkly one. Then the group promptly ditches her. Turns out vintage Chariot is one of six in the world, due to a small defect (a camel toe!), and Bronconious has been looking for one to round out his collection including Scotty Pippin Equestranaut and an Equestranaut doll that belonged to Jon Hamm.
The truly embarrassing shit grown men do for their children is sort of incredible, and Bob is no exception to this. When he catches wind of this scheme, he undergoes intensive Equestranauts training and dons a pony suit in order to infiltrate the convention. It ends up being easier than he thinks, and in the span of a day, Bob becomes Bronconious’s best friend (but Bronconious isn’t Bob’s best friend, y’know?). The weird pony rave and sex dungeon-y after-party they hit up makes for fast bonding for some reasons.
At the hotel party, Bronconious hits up the safe to reveal his Equestranauts collection to Bob, including Tina’s Chariot doll (and a spectacularly detailed Scotty Pippin pony — nice work, animators). Apparently Bronconious thinks that sucking (yes, sucking) on rare Equestranauts dolls will make him young (“look around the eyes,” he tells Bob while doing it). But Bob’s perfect plan hits a snag: apparently some of Tina’s Equestranauts fanfic was accidentally mixed in with Bob’s study materials for his Equesticles crash course. Bob starts referencing details from the fanfic thinking they’re plot points from the show, and Bronconious immediately sniffs him out as a fraud. It’s halfway between a proper witch hunt and what I imagine happens to you if you go to ICP’s Gathering in Juggalo makeup just to fuck with people.
Tina, meanwhile, realizes her fanfic faux pas just in time, racing over to the “awkward, sexually-charged” after-party to save Bob. His punishment was to be just as embarrassing as his Equestranauts costume: a giant pony tattoo (‘tu-too’) in which his face is the horse’s ass. What he ends up with is a squiggly semi-penis/wings tattoo, and thanks to true Equestranauts friendship, Tina’s Chariot doll in hand. Except, Tina realizes she is too old to play with dolls. The lesson of the story is that parenthood is a nightmare, but at least we got an amazing original Equestranauts cast song out of it (please let it be on the Bob’s Burgers album).