Bob’s Burgers: “Presto Tina-o”
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Bob’s Burgers: “Presto Tina-o”

Is it possible for a Tina-centric episode of Bob’s Burgers to be bad? I’d be the first to argue that it’s just about impossible for any episode of Bob’s Burgers to be truly bad—even the slightly disappointing ones are often uproariously funny at points—but to me, Tina is the character that makes the show completely bulletproof. This is especially true for episodes that also prominently feature Jimmy Pesto Jr.

Tina’s crush on Jimmy Jr. is one of my favorite aspects of Bob’s Burgers. Like most shows, it’s incredibly sweet adolescent puppy love—but at the same time, it’s not entirely clean and watered down. There is some juvenile objectification of boys (see: the scenes that focus on Jimmy’s butt that always launch a thousand Tumblr GIFs) that is both very funny and very real if you’ve ever overheard a group of teen girls discussing their crushes in a high school cafeteria (or if you’ve ever been a part of that group of that girls). Everything about her crush rings true: the nervousness, the daydreams, the desire to constantly spend all of your time with the object of your affection (and the scheming ways to do this which was at play tonight), the jealousy when your crush pays attention to someone else (this also factored into the episode thanks to the overdue return of bad girl Tammy), and the way that you can simultaneously be so in love with a crush but also find yourself annoyed with their existence. It’s tricky to portray all of this without going overboard with the butterflies and dramatics, or to not annoyingly shove a will-they/won’t-they situation down our throats, but the dynamic between Tina and Jimmy Jr. is always a delight to watch.

It’s been a while since we last saw Jimmy Jr. and I’d had forgotten how much I like his and Tina’s weird interactions. In “Presto Tina-o,” Jimmy has gotten interested in magic and is competing in a young magician’s contest. Tina starts daydreaming about being his assistant and crams herself into his locker to show what a great assistant she would be. She gets the role but it isn’t what she expected. Jimmy Jr.’s magician skills leave much to be desired; his talent is actually dancing. Tina, the lovely and helpful girl that she is, takes it upon herself to make Jimmy Jr. into a better magician. But Jimmy Jr. quickly dismisses her and the two get into an argument that results in Jimmy Jr. firing Tina.

What I find most endearing about the ongoing Tina and Jimmy Jr. storyline is that despite her strong feelings, she never fundamentally changes herself just for him. Sure, she has experimented with temporarily changing her appearance (taking off her glasses, wearing makeup) and yes, the basic catalyst for this episode was her also developing an interest in magic to become closer to him. Still these are all superficial phases. Tina’s actual core character traits are never compromised—such as her fierce independence. She will wear sequins and climb into a magician’s box for Jimmy Jr., fading into the background while he dances around, but when he writes her off and fires her—and later, when he adds insult to injury by hiring her nemesis Tammy to be his new assistant—Tina isn’t going to take it lightly. She doesn’t just want to beat Jimmy in the young magician’s contest, but she wants to dislocate his heart.

Meanwhile the rest of the family also finds themselves falling under the spell of magic in various ways. Bob tries to capitalize on the competition by offering a discount for magicians at his restaurant. The gleeful and childlike enthusiasm Bob initially has with magicians is nothing short of fantastic and him excitedly volunteering for Sazerac’s trick was quickly added to my list of favorite Bob moments. Linda, too, is excited but that’s to be expected. However, similar to Tina, both Bob and Linda end up disappointed. Bob is annoyed that they aren’t ordering as much as food as he thought they would and Linda wishes they would do more magic. A scuffle leads to Bob being added to a magician’s book of enemies (alongside Larry Bird and Diane Keaton) and getting cursed. The end result here wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be, but the story was amusing enough. The same goes for Louise and Gene’s plot tonight. Louise is more interested in the pickpocketing aspect of magic and tries to become good at stealing with poor results. Both plots had great moments and quotes but “Presto Tina-o” was definitely Tina’s episode.

Taking advice from a magic book (“When Doves Cry” is a perfect title), Tina decides it’s time to cut the heart out of Jimmy Jr.’s act: his dancing. She replaces his tunes with music that he can’t possibly dance to, effectively derailing his entire act. It’s the perfect revenge (and so funny to watch him struggle to dance) but deep down, Tina can’t be that heartless—and she’ll never get over Jimmy—so she ends up joining him on stage and salvaging the act into something vaguely impressive and the two win an honorable mention for onstage chemistry. It’s a great example of why I love the way Bob’s Burgers portrays Tina’s feelings for Jimmy Jr. She adores him but is sometimes incredibly frustrated with him; she sabotages his act out of anger but then saves it because she can’t bear to watch him fail. It’s a rollercoaster but a realistic one—for both teens and adults, I’d say—and I’m going to root for them forever.

Stray observations:

  • Of course Bob has a burger wallet and a burger keychain.
  • Tina’s middle name is “Danger,” but it’s spelled “R-U-T-H.”
  • If I were the sort of person who would get a knuckle tattoo, you can guarantee that it would say TEAM TINA.
  • Favorite Linda moment is a tie between comparing Tina’s straightjacket to a wedding dress (“All this white! It’s like your wedding day”) and shoving a quarter in her ear for magicians to find.
  • “They trick you, Bob! It’s what they do!”
  • Have I ever mentioned how great the montages are on Bob’s Burgers? They are always quick and to the point but they seamlessly blend together all the happenings in the family; tonight it was Tina in a straightjacket, Louise trying to pickpocket Gene, and Bob pulling out scarf after scarf from his register.
  • Now I see him, now I don’t. 

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