Bob’s Burgers Is The Best Thanksgiving Show Ever
There aren’t a lot of great Thanksgiving shows and movies. Thankfully, there’s Bob’s Burgers.
Thanksgiving is often considered in-between holiday, less of a season and more of a handful of hours full of turkey, football, and family. Halloween gets a massive build-up, as does Christmas, so much so that the holidays seem to crowd out Turkey Day from both sides, leaving it feeling like a date more about fueling up for the next big holiday than an occasion in and of itself.
The same is historically true of Thanksgiving viewing material, particularly when it comes to Thanksgiving classics you can watch with your family, Halloween and Christmas have tons of these, of course, but if you're looking for family Thanksgiving viewing, you've got…well, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for the adults and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for the kids. It's not quite that dire, but it often feels close.
Thankfully, if you want to make the Thanksgiving season more of an occasion, and you want to do that in part through Thanksgiving viewing you can watch with your entire family, there is an answer. It's not necessarily obvious, but once you get it, you'll keep coming back to it for years to come. I know, because it's become my Thanksgiving ritual, and the answer to getting me in the spirit of this particular holiday.
The answer, in this case, is Bob's Burgers.
Remember Bob's Burgers?
Bob's Burgers is an animated sitcom that's been airing on FOX since 2011, during which time it's become one of the most revered animated shows of its era. A combination of workplace and family sitcom, the series follows Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) Belcher, who run the title restaurant in a small oceanside town with the help of their three eccentric children, Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal). The restaurant was born out of Bob's passion for cooking, and his burgers are genuinely fantastic according to most people who taste them, but Bob's Burgers isn't the most successful business. The family is always struggling to make ends meet, and that struggle, when combined with Linda's exuberance and the constant mischief of his kids, is enough to make Bob into the classic put-upon TV dad.
It's a familiar setup, to be sure, but what makes Bob's Burgers special is the ways in which it uses that setup to tell stories from its own singular point-of-view. At its best, the show is a celebration of creativity, individuality, family unity, and more, and exudes a warmth that's been a comfort to millions of viewers around the world at this point, so much so that we even have a feature film based on the series.
That warmth, naturally, seeps into the holiday-themed episodes of the show, which Bob's Burgers enthusiastically delivers pretty much every year. Because of the show's commitment to holiday specials, there are now myriad Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas episodes to choose from in the Bob's Burgers catalog, but of all of them, the Thanksgiving episodes might be the most special. In those episodes, arriving every November for years now, we see the perfect distillation of what makes Bob's Burgers great, as well as perfect family viewing for Turkey Day celebrators everywhere.
Which Bob's Burgers Thanksgiving Episodes Should You Watch?
Bob's Burgers has been reliably cranking out holiday episodes since its third season (the first one where it got a complete fall-through-spring run), which means you've got roughly 10 half-hours' worth of Turkey Day material to enjoy. So, where should you start?
Honestly, the best place might be at the beginning, with Season 3's "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal," in which Bob's odd landlord (Kevin Kline) makes Bob a very generous rent-saving offer if he'll loan him his family to stage a fake Thanksgiving to impress a woman. It's got one of the wilder setups of any of the Thanksgiving episodes, and that means it brings plenty of laughs, but it's rooted in a very simple sitcom premise: A guy wants to have the perfect holiday with his family, and he just can't. Also, this episode is a perfect introduction to one of Bob's funniest quirks: Having conversations with the food he's cooking.
If you're looking for something a little less outlandish but no less hilarious, try the Season 8 episode "Thanks-hoarding," which follows the Belchers as they sacrifice much of their own Thanksgiving in order to help their friend Teddy (Larry Murphy) transform his junk-packed house into a holiday hosting space. It's yet another instance of Thanksgiving not going the way the Belchers planed, but this time it's rooted in their desire to help a sweet-natured friend who could really use a hand, and that makes it especially warm.
Then there's the classic subgenre within the Bob's Burgers Thanksgiving episodes: Bob tries to make the perfect turkey and everything goes horribly wrong. That leads you to the Season 10 episode "Now We're Not Cooking with Gas," in which the gas goes out on Thanksgiving day, leaving Bob to try against all odds to roast a board over a spit in the back alley. And of course, my personal favorite, "Turkey in a Can," which follows Bob's quest to stop his uncooked turkeys from winding up in very…unexpected places.
But really, you can't go wrong with any of the Thanksgiving episodes. They're always fun, always funny, and always made with love.
Is Bob's Burgers Okay For Family Viewing?
Though some episodes lean more toward the adults in the Belcher family, while others lean more toward the kids, Bob's Burgers is, at its core, a story about a family just trying to figure out how to make it through a weird, sometimes hostile, always surprising world. That makes the show a great vehicle for holiday episodes, especially Thanksgiving episodes, because we get to see the way an American family, quirks and all, navigates the ups and downs of holiday stresses.
But here's the real key to the show's success: Bob's Burgers is never about a family that can't stand each other, or screams at each other constantly, or makes the whole holiday about some unseen resentment that boils to the surface. You can go to other sitcoms for that. With Bob's Burgers, there is an ever-present sense of love, even when the Belchers are at odds with one another, that permeates even the wildest of Thanksgiving adventures. Whether they're running from rogue turkeys or fighting to get the bird roasted in time for the meal, the Belchers love each other through and through, and they do it while being weird, loud, and completely themselves. All that, plus a sense of humor that can please just about anyone over the age of 6 in some form or another, means that the show should become your next Thanksgiving tradition.
Bob's Burgers is streaming on Hulu.
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