Thursday, January 10, 2019
Aunt Gayle saves the day
One of the few programs in this genre that I find really tickles my funnybone is "Bob's Burgers," now in its 9th (!) season. It's about the Belcher family, who run a struggling burger restaurant in a rundown seaside American town: Bob, his wife Linda, and their three kids: Tina, Gene and Louise.
One semi-regular character who pops up from time to time is Linda's eccentric sister Gayle -- who is single, childless and embodies just about every stereotype that goes along with that description (and then some). She lives in a dingy studio apartment with three cats (one named Jean Pawed Van Damme). She wears a fanny pack. She writes and performs ridiculously bad poetry. As the Bob's Burgers wiki (! -- the stuff you can find on the Internet...!) notes, she is "extremely socially inept... Her emotional fragility and inability to connect with others often leads her to depression, even going so far as to play pretend every night before bed that she's taking shelter from a nuclear apocalypse where everyone dies, "especially the men, so it's okay to sleep alone"."
Gayle was central to the plot of a great episode from season 4 that we watched in reruns last night, called "The Kids Run Away." When feisty little Louise learns she has a cavity that needs filling, she runs away from the dentist's office and hides out at Aunt Gayle's apartment. When Bob & Linda find her there, Linda bets her daughter she can't spend an entire week putting up with her nutty aunt. If she loses the bet, she goes back to the dentist. Tina & Gene join Louise at Aunt Gayle's, with Tina secretly conspiring with her mother (via text) to come up with ideas to up Gayle's craziness ante and prod Louise to come home. (Anyone up for a round of "Gayle Force Winds," Gayle's self-invented, convoluted board game??)
Louise endures Aunt Gayle's weirdness and wins the bet -- but a celebratory bowl of ice cream for breakfast makes it clear her tooth needs to be fixed. And, in a great twist, neurotic Gayle winds up the hero of the episode when she takes charge and convinces her niece to face her fears and get the filling done (devising a creative solution involving not just the dentist but the entire Belcher family). Bob & Linda have to admit that pathetic Aunt Gayle has demonstrated some pretty impressive parenting skills ("Maybe we should let her watch the kids more often. Oh, maybe Gayle could move in with us, be a full time nanny!" "I'm gonna call your bluff on that - yes." "No…No. No.")
Gayle, after all, is still... Gayle. But overall, the ending is pretty satisfying vindication for childless aunties everywhere, for once. :)
Any other Bob's Burgers fans out there??