“I’m no hero, I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else”.
Bob's Burgers is animated sitcom featuring a monotone, spiritless dad, an ever effervescent, jazzy mom, and three starkly different kids. Firstly, there is the too-smart-for-her-own-good, cynical Louise, the whimsical, happy-go lucky Gene and last but definitely not least, the teenage gem that is Tina. While the other characters are rough archetypes that we have already seen in previous animations centered on a family, Tina’s character is pretty novel. Tina is painfully awkward. She likes horses, rainbows, and butts, and has a complicated relationship with zombies. When she is not pursuing her on and off love interest Jimmy Pesto Jr., you can find her hopelessly falling in love with almost anyone and sometimes anything (In Tina and the Real Ghost, she falls in love with a box with a ghost named Jeff in it). As if that’s not interesting enough, she also writes Erotic Friend Fiction that often features an assortment of the interests just mentioned.
“I have a photographic butt memory”.
The writers of the show could have easily made Tina’s unique character the punch-line of the show, but instead they chose to discernably portray the rollercoaster that is puberty, paying particular attention to how she embraces her sexuality. Not only is she shown to be daydreaming about her Erotic Friend Fiction several times, she even admits to having a “butt bank” (if you don’t get what this is, then maybe you’re too young to be watching Bob’s Burgers). But Tina’s sexuality and adoration of boys’ butts is never at the expense of her self-esteem. She is constantly championing for self-love and is regularly seen rooting for other girls in the show.
Tina’s character is progressive in ways that are not apparent in many animated sitcoms. In allowing her to be as candid, the show has allowed us to see a dimension of every-day feminism that is not necessarily political. Also important is how the writers of the show (several of who are women) characterized her mother as an equally candid, ever-optimistic beacon of girl power, and her younger sister as a defying, rebellious, manic prodigy. Clearly, Tina’s feminism is in great company.
“I’m a smart, strong, sensual woman”.
In his article “Cartoons Aren’t For Kids,” Ope Oduwole mentioned the character development being a standout factor in Bob’s Burgers and no one exemplifies this better than Tina Belcher. Although she has always had a lot going for her, she is by far more confident and aware of her sauce in recent episodes. We have watched Tina go from waffling at the sight of her love interest Jimmy Pesto Jr., to courting two different dates to the school dance and then forcing them to contend for her love (she ends up alone at the end of the dance, but lets focus on what’s important here). From endlessly groaning at any slight inconvenience, to volunteering for positions of responsibility at school and at home, all while staying true to herself.
Tina’s character is unapologetically weird, unapologetically uncomfortable, and its all unapologetically inspiring in the most ordinary way. She reminds us that not all heroes wear capes, some wear their bra one boob at a time. Tina is my absolute favorite character on the show, and she should be yours too.