The Bob's Burgers Movie is has been in theaters, and it's coming to HBO Max on July 12, which is a great reward for fans of the animated TV series that has managed to last 12 seasons — and counting — despite the occasional indifference of the Fox Network that airs the show. Even better for fans of the show, the movie's getting solid reviews, which is not always the case for shows that jump to big screen.
Long-time fans are surely flocking to cinemas to see Bob Belcher and his family enjoy a big-screen adventure. But what about if you've only watched a handful of episodes or managed to miss Bob's Burgers completely?
The good news is that Bob's Burgers is remarkably easy to pick up, and even better, you can stream every episode of the series on Hulu (one of the best streaming services) right now. All it takes is the $6.99/month (opens in new tab) ad-supported tier, though if you upgrade to the $12.99 (opens in new tab) level, you can watch Bob's Burgers (and other shows) without ads.
Bob's Burgers is the story of Bob Belcher and his family — his indefatigable wife Linda, his boy-crazy oldest daughter Tina, his cheerfully vulgar son Gene and his malevolent youngest daughter Louise. Bob runs a burger restaurant that always seems to be on the brink of failure despite his undeniable culinary skills. The fun comes in the unfortunate series of events that seems to befall Bob and his family — and the expanding universe of Bob's Burgers characters — on a weekly basis
My wife and I were fans of the show from the second season onward, and now that our daughter's old enough to watch Bob's Burgers with us, we've been going back and showing her older episodes. For that reason, we're fairly well-versed in which episodes can help a Bob's Burgers novice get up to speed fairly quickly — and really get into the show as part of the process.
Here are the seven Bob's Burgers episodes I'd recommend anyone who's never watched a minute of the show stream to get familiar and caught up. They introduce you to the key characters while also giving you a flavor of the general vibe for Bob's Burgers. Plus, they're the best examples of the shows ethos — a guy who just wants to cook the best burger possible, if only fate would let him.
Sheesh! Cab, Bob? (Season 1, episode 6)
If you’re looking for an early episode where the whole Bob’s Burgers vibe comes together, consider "Sheesh! Cab, Bob?" from the show’s first season. If this is your first episode of the show, it’s a great introduction to the dynamics of the Belcher family.
To pay for the semi-extravagant 13th birthday party of Tina’s dreams, Bob moonlights as a cab driver, taking him into the rough-and-tumble world of the seaside town where the Belchers live. With this episode, you’ll meet the wider universe of Bob’s Burgers denizens, from breezily sinister landlord Mr. Fischoeder to Marshmallow, who could teach the queens of RuPual’s Drag Race a thing or two about pulling off a full-body thong. The roots of Tina’s doomed love affair with Jimmy Pesto, Jr. are on display here, but the real takeaway you’ll get from this episode is the humiliations Bob is willing to endure for his family, even if it puts his beloved mustache in jeopardy.
Bob Day Afternoon (Season 2, episode 2)
Leave it to the Bob’s Burgers creative team to see Dog Day Afternoon, the sweaty 1970s bank heist-turned hostage drama, and think “Needs more laughs.” Fortunately, there are plenty of those as Bob goes from hostage situation caterer to actual hostage to hostage negotiator to unwilling accomplice, all within the course of the episode.
Bob Day Afternoon is notable for introducing a pair of great recurring characters — Mickey the bank robber (voice by Bill Hader), who eventually goes semi-straight and gets a job at the dodgy amusement park down the street from Bob's restaurant, and Sergeant Bosco (voiced by Gary Cole), apparently the only police officer in town judging by how many future cases he's handling. Like so many Bob's Burgers episodes, this one finds the comedy in Bob just trying to get through his day unscathed while both circumstances and the people around him conspire against him.
O.T.: The Outside Toilet (Season 3, episode 15)
“Boy befriends otherworldly creature he meets in the woods” is an oft-told tale, from E.T. to The Iron Giant. But only Bob’s Burgers has the guts to ask, “What if that otherworldly creature was a talking toilet voiced by Jon Hamm?”
This episode’s a showcase for Gene and all his manic obsessions. But what really lifts it into the upper echelons of Bob’s Burgers episodes is how it incorporates the oddball kids in the Belcher children’s circle of friends. I’m particularly a fan of Zeke, who delivers his asides with a gusto rarely seen from a supporting character. Find one person in your life who’s half as devoted to you as Zeke is to Jimmy Jr..
Topsy (Season 3, episode 16)
It’s safe to say that Louise is the agent of chaos, driving each Bob’s Burgers plot toward its anarchic denouement. That’s never more apparent than in Topsy when Louise’s not-so-concealed hatred of her substitute teacher drives her to expose the teacher’s hero, Inventor Thomas Edison, as an elephant-killing monster. (No, not in real life, but play along.)
Does Louise’s science fair project morph into a twisted revenge plot that sucks in the entire Belcher family? Oh, yes. Does that same project include a lavish musical number? Again, yes. Will you find yourself singing “Electric Love,” a romantic duet between an inventor and the elephant he hopes to electrocute, for days later? Friends, I’m singing it right now.
BoyzRNow (Season 3, episode 21)
Before the middle-school girls of Turning Red had their adventure getting to the 4*Town concert, there were the Belcher sisters trying to get a Boyz 4 Now concert.
One of the best things about Bob’s Burgers is how it never condescends to teen girl culture or teen girl desires; one of the best things about this episode is how it nudges Louise out of her smug little comfort zone as she gets walloped with her first tween crush and the horrible realization that she’s just as susceptible to messy human emotions as the rest of us.
Also funny and incisive: the sharply-drawn boy band characters, another supporting turn by the joyful chaos generator Zeke, and a rare moment of humility from the show’s most hubristic character.
The Oeder Games (Season 5, episode 21)
The agony of Bob Belcher’s existence is how he’s perpetually stuck at the frustrating moment where his dreams almost, but don’t quite, pay off. The ecstasy of Bob Belcher’s existence is how, despite having to spend every day being reminded of his uphill struggle, Bob continues to persist, to dream and to try and act on those dreams.
In The Oeder Games, his dream is to enact a rent strike against daffy plutocrat Mr. Fischoeder — and it almost works until Mr. F cannily and correctly calculates that none of his tenants know the first thing about probability and all of them are willing to break rent strike solidarity for a one-in-20 chance of a rent break if they survive a water balloon fight staged for Mr. F’s amusement. Watching Bob grapple with serial defeats as his fellow tenants desert him, and seeing how he engineers an unlikely victory is both a heartwarming ending and a great reminder that unexpected wins are what keep any dreamer going through daily aggravations.
Dawn of the Peck (Season 5, episode 4)
The great TV shows put their own stamp on holiday episodes, and for Bob's Burgers, the holiday of choice is Thanksgiving. Turkey Day just happens to be Bob's favorite holiday, and fortune being Bob's foe, Thanksgiving dinner is usually preceded by an escalating disaster.
You can essentially pick any Thanksgiving Day episode of Bob's Burgers and treat yourself to 20-plus minutes of cringe comedy, but I think Dawn of the Peck is the best of the bunch. It's the one where Bob finally renounces Thanksgiving after his family wants to spend the day at a Turkey Trot festival instead of preparing dinner with him. Does the Turkey Trot festival go horribly wrong when the turkeys go feral and take over the town? Does Linda restore order by establishing dominance over the turkeys, become the alpha turkey in the process? Is dinner pretty much ruined?
If you've watched enough Bob's Burgers episodes up until now, folks, you know the answer to all of the above questions is yes.