Bob's Burgers Season 9, Episode 9:

Animated sitcoms don’t exactly lend themselves to character development. The characters rarely get any older no matter how long the show stays on the air, so we can’t really expect them to learn much of anything. But there are exceptions to every rule, and Tina Belcher actually seems to be growing up before our very eyes (despite being in middle school for nine years). She brings a very mature viewpoint to this week’s episode that most adults still struggle with: life is all about taking chances.

Let’s face it—we’re all chickens when it comes to risk taking. That’s why there are so many goofy inspirational sayings we use to motivate ourselves:

  • You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. That’s easy for you to say, Wayne Gretzky, but most of us mere mortals also miss about 99.9% of the shots we actually do take. Of course, it depends on the shot. Sports? Not happening. Tequila? Oddly enough, I have absolutely no problem making those.
  • You have to be in it to win it. And by “it,” of course, we mean the lottery. Because nothing says “good investment” like betting on bazillion-to-one odds instead of spending your hard-earned money on something a little more practical. Like food. Or clothes. Or literally anything else.
  • You have to put yourself out there. Out where? There? Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Looks a little too scary out there. I’ll be fine right here, thank you very much.
  • Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. That’s one possibility. It’s also possible that my “future friend” is actually a deranged lunatic psycho killer who wants to cut off my head and leave my lifeless body in a ditch. So why chance it?

As you might have guessed, I’m not really a “jump off a cliff” kind of guy. I guess I’m kind of like the Belcher’s new classmate Henry (voiced by the one and only Jim Gaffigan) in that regard–why try to contact the aliens when there’s a really good chance that a highly advanced civilization is just waiting for some stupid creatures from a planet like Earth to give away their location. That would just make it easier for the super-smart extraterrestrials to take over our planet. Or eat us. Or both.

So Henry convinces Tina and Susmita that it’s just not worth the risk. Of course, he uses a bit of trickery (and Gene and Louise, who are both willing to help him for frozen yogurt) to sabotage their science fair project and make it look like the aliens have made contact—and that they’re angry. But when his plan is exposed as a hoax, it has a different effect on the two young scientists (okay, one young scientist and one boy-crazy girl who’s really good a making science fair boards). Susmita sees it as a sign—maybe the aliens really are hostile, so why tempt fate?

Tina, on the other hand, looks past the possibility of starting interplanetary war and realizes that, while it’s possible that the aliens will attack, it’s also possible that they’re friendly and will come to our aid when we need it. Because the time is fast approaching (at least according to the other science fair projects) when we’re gonna need some help from our galactic neighbors just to survive.

Of course, all this alien stuff is really masking what’s really going on. Susmita’s afraid to let Henry know she likes him. But Tina’s learned that taking chances and letting people know how you feel is the only way to live. How does she spend what she thinks might be her last day on Earth? Letting her family know how much she loves them and kissing as many boys as possible. Was it worth it? I think she’d say it was. Maybe not kissing Zeke. But everything else was great.

Random thoughts:

  • The bit about the tiny coat racks is classic Bob, and you just don’t know whether to laugh or feel bad for the guy. Truth is, I could totally see myself getting stuck with multiples of something because I didn’t read either the product descriptions or the return policies before ordering. But there would probably be alcohol involved. Beer and Amazon just don’t mix.
  • I’m all for renaming coffee “sneezy.” I sneeze more than I cough these days. Makes perfect sense to me.
  • Storefront next to Bob’s place—You’re the Man Now, Dog (suits for dogs)
  • Exterminator: The Van That Rocks the Beatle
  • Burger of the Day: there were two of them this week, but I’ll have the Colby by Your Name burger.
  • “Put a fettuccini in your in-betweeny!”

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