Screenshot / FOX

Bob’s Burgers does incredibly well with holiday episodes. When your regular reviewer, Brianna Wellen, asked my to fill in this episode, I was happy to do so. Bob’s Burgers routinely weaves sentimentality and the mediocre reality of the holiday season. Last year’s “The Quirkducers” wasn’t just memorable for its horrific gut-covered middle school play, it also marked a major moment of growth and maturity for Tina. “Thanks-hoarding” is another success in the show’s solid holiday repertoire.

Teddy has become a de facto Belcher, but we get to know him a little bit better here. The Belchers are at their best when they come together to solve a problem and Teddy’s surprise Thanksgiving dinner is a perfect challenge for them. When it turns out Teddy is also a hoarder, in addition to a terrible cook, the family joins together to make the best of the situation. While Bob seems agitated over the disruption, it’s actually a near-perfect Belcher Thanksgiving.

Linda happily goes into overdrive in her attempts to not only clean Teddy’s dining room, but also cure him of his need to hoard. Bob’s anxiety around cooking the perfect Thanksgiving meal is one of the show’s best bits and Teddy’s helplessness gives Bob an opportunity to redeem himself. Tina, Gene and Louise get to rummage around weird trash and broken lightbulbs; activities I’m sure they’d happily make family tradition if given the chance.

The episode maintains a low-stakes appeal. We’re not left wondering if Bob will be able to finish dinner in time. There’s no risk of someone burning the turkey at the 11th hour. Even Teddy’s family ends up changing plans at the last minute; making all of their efforts entirely unnecessary. “Thanks-hoarding” isn’t interested in over-the-top stunts like the gut busting activities of “The Quirkducers.” Instead, we’re just allowed to get comfortable with the Belcher family as they gleefully dig into Teddy’s hoard.

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Bob’s brief mention of calling in a TV show to help could’ve pushed the episode into wildly different territory, but they choose instead to focus on the emotional root of Teddy’s problems. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Teddy had a few dead cats in his dining room and that would’ve been hilarious, but he’s really just driven by an insecure need to fix the things around him.

And while it’s not like the Belchers, who are willing to abandon their own holiday activities just to fix Teddy’s situation, have any room to judge and they don’t. Teddy often seems like the butt of the joke on Bob’s Burgers. But, the show has done a lot to move Bob and Teddy’s relationship from an irritated worker/customer dynamic to actual friendship. It’s a fitting that Bob’s best Thanksgiving dinner is shared around Teddy’s small, sad coffee table. These are two friends who accept each other, even if part of that acceptance is dealing with frantic polaroids while you try to cook carrots.

“Thanks-hoarding” could give the Belcher children more to do, however. While Louise gets off some wonderful insults at the expense of Bob’s boring cooking talk and Teddy’s underwhelming life, Gene and Tina are mostly just along for the ride. The kids usually get into some weird shenanigans when they’re forced to make the best out of unconventional objects (remember when they turned mounds of meat into a make-your-own movie toy?), so it would’ve made sense for them to do something more with Teddy’s trove of trash. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, but that does give Teddy more space to shine.

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It’s always been obvious that Teddy does not handle stress well, but his slow deterioration as Linda throws out his belongings and his family’s visit approaches is one of his best meltdowns. From his ripped shirt to his half-shaved face (which he totally pulled off, by the way), this episode sees Teddy reach new levels of anxiety without letting him get too annoying or overbearing.

“Thanks-hoarding” hits all the notes of a great Bob’s Burgers holiday episode. It’s part sentimental character study, part pure Thanksgiving fun.

Stray Observations

  • Burger of the day: Catch Me If You Cran Burger (served with cranberry sauce)
  • I love when the family shows no enthusiasm for Bob’s latest meal prep ideas.
  • It really was a great moment when Bob protested Teddy’s polaroids and then went along with fixing his hair.

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