BOB’S BURGERS Season 4 Episode 10: “Presto Tina-o”
This is my first time writing about the show so it’s only fair I point out that Bob’s Burgers might be my favorite show on TV right now. It’s certainly my favorite comedy. I was a little too young during The Simpsons golden days, but I imagine that people watching that show back in the early ‘90s must have felt the same way I feel when I watch Bob’s Burgers. It’s a family sitcom taken to cartoonish lengths, without a single bad character in the bunch. Tina Belcher, whom this episode focuses on, is one of my favorite characters simply because I’ve never seen anything like her represented on TV before. Yes, she’s a shy, nervous nerd, but she’s also 13, which means that she’s going through puberty. I can’t remember any show even attempting to tell honest stories about the burgeoning sexuality of teenage girls, especially one that does it as hilariously as Bob’s Burgers. Tina obsession with boys (and their butts) is never meant to embarrass, but rather to humanize her. In “Presto Tina-o”, Tina’s long-time crush Jimmy Jr. tries to win a school magician competition. Tina uses the competition to get closer to Jimmy Jr. by volunteering to be his assistant, until he fires her for pointing out that (excellent) dance moves are upstaging his lackluster magic skills. The beauty of the Tina/Jimmy Jr. relationship has always resided in the fact that Tina continues to want him despite being constantly frustrated by his aloofness. This episode takes that dynamic to new heights by having Tina sabotage and then save Jimmy Jr.’s magic act.
I sought out Chozen specifically because it’s a show that does not appeal to me, and I’m trying to expose myself to shows that I wouldn’t normally consider watching. Chozen is about a gay, white, recently paroled rapper, voiced by SNL’s Bobby Moynihan. In the show’s pilot, Chozen begins to put his life and rap career back together after being framed by former hype man Phantasm (awesomely voiced by Method Man). I read an interview with Moynihan in which he claimed not to understand why people feel the need to “latch on to” Chozen’s homosexuality, which seems to me a little willingly naïve. Obviously a show about a gay, white rapper—of which there are none in main stream culture—is meant to push boundaries. The show’s humor is enthusiastically offensive, to the point that if Chozen was actually straight, the things he was saying would be considered misogynistic. But isn’t prison rape culture funny? And let me be clear here: the gay thing is a shtick. Chozen is not Max from Happy Endings. He does not “just happen to be gay.” Making him gay was a deliberate choice, meant simply for provocation. I’m not saying that I didn’t laugh at times (Moynihan’s pretend sleeping noises were wonderful) but I just can’t get interested in the show’s premise. Funny rap is hard to do—just ask Lonely Island—and I’m not sure they pull it off.
That’s right, I watch FX cartoons featuring black sensor bars hiding male genitalia, and Danish political thrillers. The A.V. Club recently named five foreign series as evidence of a coming new wave. Denmark in particular has been flourishing with a series of crime thrillers—one of which is the basis of AMC’s The Killing. Borgen appealed to me because it reminded me, oddly enough, of Battlestar Galactica. I loved the sci-fi elements of BSG a lot, but what kept me coming back was the political intrigue and character development, which Borgen similarly embraces. Borgen is about Birgitte Nyborg, the leader of the Danish Moderate Party who unexpectedly becomes the first female prime minister of Denmark after publicly breaking ties with political conventional wisdom. A lot of subplots are thrown in to the first episode, including the covered up circumstances of a politician’s death, but Borgen never seems in over its head. The show seems confident with its themes and its direction. I predict an upcoming American adaptation—especially with the 2016 political runs of Hillary Clinton and possibly Elizabeth Warren—which may be a good thing for this country to have. Nyborg wins the presidency in the pilot by appearing less corrupt and less jaded than her more conservative and liberal counterparts. I’m assuming that as the series continues, Nyborg will have to stretch her morals, but it’s nice to see a show that’s slightly less pessimistic about politics.