Back in January, Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard responded to a question during a Television Critics Association panel about the voice cast of his then-upcoming Apple TV+ show Central Park by saying that one of the perks of animation is that you can have whatever voice come out of whatever face. He was saying that this was one of the “fun” aspects of making a cartoon, since—for Central Park—it gave him a chance to have Stanley Tucci playing an old woman. He admitted that it’s important to “balance” these things out, but he also noted that a biracial character named Molly “needed” to be played by Kristen Bell. Since then, the idea of representation in animation has become a bigger topic, with non-Black actors stepping down from portraying Black characters and Umbrella Academy’s Emmy Raver-Lampman replacing Bell as Molly on Central Park.
This weekend, during a Comic-Con At Home panel (via The Hollywood Reporter), Bouchard noted that Bob’s Burgers also has some work to do in terms of representation. He says the conversation about representation in animation has been “very healthy” and that “every part of it is good, even the awkward ones” and he knows it’s all worth it because it’s about getting “better at being in the world.” Apparently, Kristen Schaal (who plays Louise) challenged him in the past to hire more women, and Bouchard says that five of the 11 current Bob’s Burgers writers are women and 31 percent of the staff at Bento Box Entertainment (the animation studio that produces the show) are women. He admits that the latter number is “not enough,” but he says they’ve been working to increase that number every year.
As for men voicing female characters on the show, Schaal offered a suggestion to try and balance things out and appeal to Bouchard’s “it’s fun to make any voice come out of any face” sensibility: “Create more male characters voice by women and see how that goes,” adding that maybe Bouchard could “create some things that haven’t happened before.” Women voicing men is a longstanding tradition in animation, though it’s usually reserved for kids like Bart Simpson or Tommy Pickles, and Schaal presumably doesn’t necessarily mean just that.
In other Bob’s Burgers news, executive producer Nora Smith revealed that the show is doing a pandemic episode next season, but not on purpose. It was written and produced “long before” the coronavirus became something we can never get away from and is about a pinworm outbreak. Smith was concerned that people would think the show was joking about the real virus, but apparently the characters do “take it seriously” and the episode should be fun anyway because “it’s about anus stuff.” There’s also “a lot of hand washing,” which is nice. Not enough TV characters wash their hands.