Sitcom dads have come a long way from the sweater-vest wearing, stale platitude-spouting, very-special-moment having caricatures whose every word is punctuated by a laugh track. But while the Phil Dunphys and Andre Johnsons of modern television are far more fully-shaded and raise the comedic dad-game to new heights, TV’s best patriarch is 100-percent shaded. That is, he’s a cartoon.
That’s right. Bob Belcher, the flawed, balding, burger-flipping, father of 3 from Bob’s Burgers, is the greatest dad on television. Far from the drunken couch potatoes of animated sitcoms (ahem, Peter Griffin), Bob is a hardworking small business owner who leads by example, embraces his exceptionally weird wife and kids, and slings dad jokes just as well as he does his pun-tastic patties. He’s human, he’s hilarious, and he’s the dad-est dad out there. Here are 6 parenting lessons you can take from the grill master extraordinaire.
Trust Your Kids
The Belchers aren’t just family, they’re co-workers. Barring the occasional special guest appearance, Bob’s kids are his only employees. Bob loves his business so much he hasn’t taken a vacation in 10 years, but when his kids are not working, they have complete freedom to do whatever they want. Whether that means robbing a train, trading in illegal whale barf, or selling tickets to a nude beach viewing platform, Bob knows that if he can trust them with health code regulations, he can trust them to look after each other.
Bob expects a lot from his children, but as long as they do their jobs in the shop and don’t fail out of elementary school, he lets them be as strange as they like. Louise wears bunny ears all the time. Gene plays a keyboard that makes fart sounds. And Tina has a questionable obsession with butts and writing erotic versions of her favorite movies and TV shows. Bob lets his kids be themselves, even if they’re extremely embarrassing.
Go The Extra Mile
Having grown up as a full-time employee in his dad’s restaurant, Big Bob’s, Bob is willing to let his kids be kids and not employees (he once fired his offspring so they could enjoy their summer break). So when Tina, the eldest child, has lavish plans for her 13th birthday party, Bob picks up a side job as a cab driver all for a smoke machine and streamers. When Bob’s arch nemesis refuses to let his son go to Tina’s jam unless Bob shaves off his prized lip-fuzz, Bob accepts looking like an idiot just so his daughter can have her first kiss. Total dad cred.
What other TV dad could hold down a catchphrase like “You’re my family and I love you, but you’re all terrible.”? Bob doesn’t beat around the bush. He tells his kids what they need to hear, even if it’s not always easy for him to say. Sometimes that means telling Gene to “Can it!” with his Beefsquatch bit or telling Louise he hates her grandma. His commitment to honesty has rubbed off on his kids, like when Tina insists they leave a note on the car she crashes into when Bob lets her drive. Bob is proof that if you’re going to dish out the truth, your kids will be better for it.
Bob never hesitates when he knows he has to give up something for his kids’ happiness. When Tina loses her prized My Little Pony-esque Equestranauts figurine , Bob parts with his dignity to disguise himself as an adult male fan (called Equestricles, of course) and infiltrates the odd organization so he can get the toy back. Sacrificing dignity in the name of your child’s happiness is Bob Belcher’s burger of the day every damn day.
Keep Your Cool
While Bob has, on occasion, lost his cool, he regroups quickly. You won’t catch him choking his kid or forgetting his middle child exists. He doesn’t hold in his feelings, and his to-go phrase isn’t an exclamation or a chuckle. It’s an honest reaction to the weird and crazy things he has to deal with: “Oh god.” It’s not catchy for t-shirt sales, but Bob’s brutal honesty makes him the sanest person in an insane world.