An All-New ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Asks the All-Important Question: What’s So Great About Sweet Potato Fries?

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All things considered, Bob Belcher seems generally happy with his life. He doesn’t make a lot of money, and his family drives him crazy, but he’s okay with all of that because he gets to do what he loves—make burgers. And he’s pretty good at it, too—and he knows it. He may not be good at much, but he knows he can make a mean burger.

But no matter how confident you are in your own abilities, it’s always nice for your talents to be recognized by others. After all, Bob’s only human, and so when his restaurant doesn’t make the local “Best Burgers on the Shore” list, it feels like a slight. Especially since the only explanation Bob can come up with for not making the cut is the fact that he refuses to serve sweet potato fries. I mean, he’s been selling regular fries exclusively for years, so why change now, right?

So it seems like fate that he happens to run into Clem Clements, a radio personality from the past who was kind of a renegade. Just like Bob, Clem refused to change with the times, and so he now finds himself disinfecting bowling shoes instead of rocking out over the airwaves. Sure, he lost his job, but he left with his principles and his dignity intact (sort of). And aren’t those more important than one’s career and one’s ability to make a living in a cool, fun way?

Actually, in this case, it’s really hard to say. “Long Time Listener, First Time Bob” is the story of two men who are forced to choose between doing things the way they’ve always done them and changing their methods to keep up with cultural trends. On the one hand, doing things as they’ve always been done is comfortable and predictable, and it ensures a certain level of quality (since, if you do something the same way every time, you’re bound to be really good at it). 

On the other hand, people eventually get tired of the same old thing no matter how good it is, and they want something new. Frankly, I agree with Bob—sweet potato fries are pointless and unnecessary and a low-quality substitute for regular fries. But if the public wants them, it’s probably smart to put them on the menu. By the same token, the majority of drive-time radio listeners probably don’t want to hear entire album sides or a DJ chewing his food over the air anymore, and so Clem will need to make some changes if he still wants to be a part of the radio industry in a meaningful way.

Of course, the fact that the public wants change doesn’t mean that change is absolutely necessary. You can always choose to keep doing what you’re doing in the way you’ve always done it—you just have to be prepared for the fact that it may never be what your target audience (or any significantly sized audience, for that matter) really wants. For example, Clem’s takeover stunt does resonate with a few listeners, including a rival station manager who’s willing to offer him a midnight shift on the radio. It’s not a great time slot, but it’s something, and so Clem will probably be able to resurrect the old “no plan, no B.S.” format for a new audience. It just may be a much smaller (and sleepier) one that he might have had otherwise.

By the same token, Bob doesn’t have to put sweet potato fries on the menu. But he’ll have to accept the fact that, if he doesn’t, he may never get the critical acclaim he desperately wants. All things considered, I think he’ll be okay with that.

Bottom line? We all have to decide what’s most important to us. If it’s doing what we love, and doing it the way we want to do it, that’s fine. Others may not like it, but that’s their problem. On the other hand, if we really need to have others buy into what we do (literally and/or figuratively), there’s nothing wrong with that. Not all approval seeking is unhealthy, and sometimes it’s necessary. But that just means that we have to be willing to change some things to align what we do with what other people want.

Ultimately, it’s about striking a balance between being true to ourselves and meeting the needs and wants of others. And it’s not easy. But it’s something that truly successful people manage to find.

Random thoughts:

  • We also learn that sweet potatoes aren’t quite sweet enough on their own to make a pie taste good. That kind of seems like common sense, but this is Linda we’re talking about.
  • Store next door: The Rods Must Be Drapey (curtain rods and more)
  • Exterminator: Four Non-Bugs
  • Burger of the day: I’ll try the Fleetwood Jack burger (comes with jack cheese but NOT sweet little fries).

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