Bob’s Burgers: “Family Fracas”
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Bob’s Burgers: “Family Fracas”

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Bob’s Burgers

“Family Fracas”

Season 3, Episode 19

Fame constantly encroaches on sitcoms, even those most grounded in reality. After all, we watch these because the people on them are (written and acted to be) charming, weird, and funny enough that they're worth paying attention to. So at a certain point, it becomes difficult for the other characters within that world not to acknowledge that fact, and start behaving accordingly. This was one of the points where The Simpsons famously started shifting from a down-to-earth, character-based show to one where the family would have increasingly exotic and bizarre adventures.

The season two episode “Beefsquatch” started the Belchers down the path of fame, as Bob, then Gene, were discovered by a local morning show and turned into TV stars. Their antics got that show canceled, and led to a split of the married anchors of the show, Chuck and Pam. “Family Fracas” is a semi-sequel to “Beefsquatch,” as the Belchers find themselves interacting with Chuck and Pam once again. Chuck is the host of the Family Fracas game show, while Pam plays a TV judge. I'm not certain that these were the best characters to return to Bob's Burgers, but hearing Samantha Bee screaming that she sentences Chuck to kiss her ass can't be a bad thing.

The “Family Fracas” game show depends on having families of five to compete, with a minivan as the grand prize. The Belchers need a new car, so they join the competition. They're really good at winning the contests, but fail at winning the minivan. As they keep trying, day after day, they become noticed by all their friends, and the Belchers' latest battle with the Pestos becomes a matter of public record, culminating in Bob being pantsed and that showing up on YouTube.

At the core of the episode is a tension between the fact that the Belchers can't actually win, even though they deserve to succeed for winning the show's contests and for being themselves. The Belchers should be famous! Is there a local talent agency that wouldn't be able to find some use for Louise's ability to shout about anything for money? The whole family can be clever in any situation, also useful for live television. Bob embarrasses himself constantly! But of course the Belchers aren't allowed to win, according to the rules of television. So “Family Fracas” causes them to fail over and over, first at winning the minivan, then at beating Jimmy Pesto, then at uncovering the cheating scandal.

The inability for the Belchers to make progress renders “Family Fracas” relatively disappointing overall. Although it certainly has its funny moments, they don't coalesce into a full episode because the failures become so predictable. The Belchers may deserve fame, and fame could even good for them in their world, but it's best for us viewers in our world that they stay unrecognized in theirs.

Stray observations:

  • “No idea's a bad idea!” “I like this guy!” Future career for Gene!
  • The best moment of the episode: “Hi! I'm Tina! I like horses, music, and boys. (Hi, boys. I'm Tina.)” It's like she's been waiting her whole pubescent life to introduce herself to the world.
  • “I just shut you off! I just shut you off and you can't say anything!” Bob has rules for his insults.
  • “You hit my eye!” “Done. Now we're twins again!” Yet Another Great Andy And Ollie Moment.
  • The Petalphile is the name of the shop next to Jimmy Pesto's.
  • “You don't have a bar in your desk?” I sense a niche, IKEA.
  • “I never forget a camera that feeds me.”

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