Has Bob’s Burgers Mastered How To Represent The Ever Expanding LGBTQ Community?
LGBTQ representation as characters in cartoons has been on the rise lately. Back in the day, while watching television programs, we were only able to loosely guess the sexual orientation of a character by piecing together misleading or foggy clues or plots, because you know, being LGBTQ was too taboo for daytime, primetime, let alone animation. Now, we’re fortunate enough to have characters being open about who they are all over every aspect of television. For example, we’ve seen classic characters on The Simpsons come out over the last decade, Family Guy has never shied away from their LGBTQ characters (or poked fun at them), and South Park may be the leading animated series to have made our community mainstream. However, after carefully watching and being a fan of Bob’s Burgers for years, some of us can likely agree that the series has been more than progressive with their LGBTQ representation – extending to each of our letters and even diving into our grammar school crushes.
Bob’s Burgers has a plethora of LGBTQ characters that it’s a little hard to begin to highlight them. Of course there is the big stand-out we all love, Linda Blecher (voiced by John Roberts, who based the character’s voice and mannerisms off of his mother), the matriarch of the greasy spoon restaurants. Linda lives in a world of her own, even making her fantasy inclusive. She hilariously calls/labels a frequent rodent visitor, racoon Little King Trashmouth (LKT), as gay – who is also married to his partner, Gary. Linda often talks about LKT and his made up life in the dumpster behind their restaurant. It’s a cute little nod that has slowly became a running gag.
The Fox animation hit show also includes representation from transgender community. Back in its first season, the show’s creators decide to make titular character, Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) become a cab driver to earn money to pay for his daughter’s expensive birthday party. Within the string of characters he picks up are a group of transgender female sex workers, Cha-Cha, Glitter, Marbles, and fan favorite, Marshmallow (David Herman). The women and Bob have a friendly, super funny banter and he eventually invites them to his daughter’s party – and they definitely bring the pizzazz and sass, even outing Bob’s rival, Jimmy Pesto, as one of their clients who enjoys wearing a diaper and being treated like a baby. Marshmallow has been welcomed into the Belcher family and included into their zany plot lines as a regular/recurring character who we cannot get enough of. Her identity is never questioned, she is simply loved and is always there to sit on a bar stool and grab a burger with the gang.
Another fan favorite of the series is openly gay Nat Kinkle (Jillian Bell), a kooky, limousine driver. Nat hasn’t been in many episodes since her creation in season eight, but her three episode stint has proven to be popular. Nat is a forward feminist, vying to make sure that her female friends are at peace and seeks revenge on any man or boy who betrays them. She is a reptile fanatic which we learned when she tried to get back with her ex-girlfriend whom she shared a snake with. Nat is more butch in appearance and personality, which lines her up flawlessly in the cast of diverse LGBTQ characters the show has brought into our living rooms.
There’s a handful of gay characters that have been on the show. Dalton Crespin (John Early) is a gay gossip blogger who appears in a handful of episodes. Some one time characters, like a butcher who flirts with Bob amid Thanksgiving panic and Duval, a chef who tries to swoon Bob while they cook together, are fun side characters that give strength to an episode – and especially the curiosity surrounding Bob’s sexual orientation himself. After being hit on by the butcher, Bob identifies himself as “mostly straight” leading many hardcore fans to believe he’s taken a dip in the boy pool at least once in his fictionalized life. And how can we forget the show’s resident drag queen, Miss Triple X-Mas (Todrick Hall), who brings the heat and the energy to the gay warehouse parties.
While these characters and storylines are loads of fun – many of us can adore the very cat and mouse relationship of two very obviously gay characters. No, we’re not talking about Tina Belcher’s (Dan Mintz) obsession with butts or Jimmy Pesto Jr’s flamboyance and love of dance – although those may be some honorable mentions. In the latest episode, Tappy Tappy Tappy Tap Tap Tap, we revisit a rival grammar school, The School of Performing Arts, where eighth graders Josh (Ben Schwartz) and Douglas (Daveed Diggs) attend. Josh, originally introduced as a love interest for Tina, is definitely teetering towards coming out in every episode he’s in. He’s openly not interested in Tina and has a love for everything ART, including his best friend, Douglas, who is severely overly protective of him. In the latest episode, Douglas continues to abrasively shade Tina’s obvious crush on Josh and spends his time tending to Josh’s bum knee after he hurts himself in a tapping accident. The more we see of the boys, we know they are so clearly a couple in young, puppy love. And who can’t relate to Douglas’ hostility towards Tina for coming after his man? Back off, sister!
Are you a fan of Bob’s Burgers? Do you think the show has been ultra-progressive in its representation for the LGBTQ community?
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.