“Bob’s Burgers” review: “Slumber Party”

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When we’re growing up, extended family (especially our grandparents) speculate about us. “You’re Michael’s son” or “You’re Laura’s daughter” are the kind of phrases they use. Although genetically we’re usually a blend of our parents, behavior can tend to sway one way or another. Louise is Bob’s daughter. Since “Carpe Museum,” Louise has shown in her own subtle manner that she wants to take over the family business. Try as she might, Linda knows inside that this will happen. Day to day, Bob and Louise are one in the same. They don’t like meeting new people or going out. Their comfort zones are quickly established and they care for little more than maintaining that. And with all of this in mind, “Slumber Party” acts as one of Linda’s many attempts to make Louise Linda’s daughter.

Linda is the ideal mother for the cliché Slumber Party. She knows all of the tropes and activities. She has parts for Tina and Gene to play. The only flaw in her design is the guest list. Bob’s Burgers is not foreign to one trick pony characters; this isn’t to say one-dimensional, necessarily, but rather that there’s an emphasis on one particular quality. There’s Harley, the girl who can’t shut up. Jodi, the germaphobe. The list goes on. Louise, like her father, is quick to judge on first impressions, and that’s why she hates her stalest guest, Jessica. Boring, dull Jessica. Louise can barely stand being in the same room with these people. It is not long before Louise’s eagerness to restore order gets the best of her. The slumber party must not continue.

One by one, Louise picks off her guests by presenting their personal phobias. Jodi is an easy foe. Louise just needs to remind her of germs. This leads to a personal highlight of the episode: Bob driving kids home. Although I was never in this particular situation, there are few interactions more awkward than a kid and their friend’s parents alone. There is nothing to relate to or talk about. Bob Belcher, father of the year, tries as best he can to survive the ride with small talk. Honestly, an entire B-story could be dedicated to Bob driving home each girl after Louise has disposed of her. The episode “Sheesh! Cab, Bob?” comes to mind (this show’s equivalent to Taxicab Confessions).

The structure of “Slumber Party” appears to set us up for a Linda/Louise moment. After all, Linda is driving most of the plot. Then something happens, something only Bob’s Burgers would do. Linda’s priorities shift to a feud between raccoons out back. To the point of taking her favorite, slightly-drunk raccoon, Linda hopes to rid the alley of El Diablo (Yes, like the devil. Linda finds herself quite clever). This works well for Bob’s Burgers because a new obsession for Linda leaves the kids to solve their own problems. Although Tina is the heart of the show, the trio of kids working together brings their dynamic to its finest levels.

Jessica, stale Jessica, is sneaking around the house with something to hide. “You can’t be mysterious and boring, Jessica. You can’t have both.” On their mission to find this boring bagel, slumber party tropes start to return. Hide and seek, pillow fights, they all play on Louise’s intense “war is hell” way of thinking. Louise remains sharp and gets the upper hand, but Jessica is more of a genius than Louise thought. She is a quiet and calculated one at that. With a quartet of new characters who have showed up in the Bob’s Burgers universe, there is little doubt that we will see Jessica again.

Also this week, Bob’s hair got braided by one of the girls. “What’s wrong with your hair, Bob?” Linda asks. “What’s right with it,” Bob responds with pure bliss.