If the “Bob’s Burgers” episode nominated for this year’s Emmy were one of the puntastic Burgers of the Day featured on the store’s chalkboard, it would be the “Girl Power Jam-Burger (Comes With Tomato Jam).” The animated series has already earned seven consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Animated Program, winning two, and is hoping for its third with the feminist empowerment episode “V for Valentine-detta.”
In the episode, Linda Belcher puts together a girls’ night out in a limousine to cheer up her daughter Tina, whose heart has been broken by Jimmy Pesto, Jr. after he throws her over for classmate Becky on Valentine’s Day. After various shenanigans led by the devil-may-care limo driver Nat, they decide to exact vengeance by ruining Jimmy’s date. But just as Tina is about to throw stink bombs at the new couple, she stops herself when she realizes she doesn’t want to be mean to Becky. When Jimmy dumps Becky mid-date, she and Tina commiserate over his awfulness on the limo ride home.
“Boys come and go, but your girls will always be there for you,” observed Tina, and Linda chimed in, “That’s right. Sometimes women are awful to other women, but not us, not tonight.”
IndieWire spoke to Kristen Schaal, who voices the bunny-eared rapscallion Louise, and writers Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux about “V for Valentine-detta.”
“I loved that episode. I loved the admiration had Louise had toward the driver, Jillian Bell’s character, Nat,” said Schaal.
In the episode, Nat offers to run over Jimmy Pesto, Jr. and comes up with the stink bomb scheme. Her offbeat sense of fun and her instinct for casual mayhem speaks to Louise, who has never fit in with Linda and Tina’s romantic personalities. “I knew I’d find my real mom one day,” Louise says after Nat reveals she has a tub of baked beans handy to chuck at meter maids.
“That character was so refreshing and cool, living a life the way no one else is,” said Schaal. “It was fun to watch Louise be like, ‘Yes, yes, this is the way I’d like to live my life, too.’”
The Emmy-nominated voice actress also noted the strong message of women supporting other women in how Tina acts with Becky.
“I loved the moment of Tina realizing the lesson that for some reason we need to learn over and over again, which is when you get dumped it’s not the other person’s fault,” she said. “It’s the guy’s fault; it not the woman’s fault. And I think that it’s just easier to be mad at another woman than the person you’re in love with.”
“Bob’s Burgers” has always been able to balance irreverence and lunacy with optimism and the importance of connection — whether it’s with family members or other misfits, such as handyman Teddy, who doesn’t seem to have any real friends other than the Belchers.
Check out the rest of the interview below with the Molyneux siblings, who clearly know a thing about supporting women.
How did the story concept for “V for Valentine-detta” come up?
Lizzie: We really wanted to do a Valentine’s Day episode that was more about female friendships than romantic love and, since Tina is such a romantic, it seemed like having some sort of heartbreak for her would create a good opportunity for the other girls and women in our show to rally around her.
Wendy: Yeah, it feels kinda of the moment to have women showing solidarity on Valentine’s Day and having fun without dudes. It’s weird that we started this episode before the #MeToo movement was officially underway, but in some ways it’s been underway since a lady pterodactyl had to tell a man pterodactyl to stop hitting on her and just let her do her job. Which I guess was flying around and making dinosaur sounds?
I enjoyed that this was a very girls-bonding episode and that it was written by two women. Was this deliberate? Do you think this gave you some insights?
Lizzie: It was very deliberate! As women, we like and support other women and we really enjoy writing episodes that do just that.
Wendy: Hell yeah, this is all part of our vagenda of manocide! Just kidding, but yeah, we like to bring our lady-persepective to network comedy. We’ve heard of Bazinga, but what about Her-zinga?
Do you think of the Burger of the Day for this, especially since it was Valentine’s themed? (The Shut Up and Swiss Me Burger)
Lizzie: I can’t remember who came up with this one, but I hope it was me!
Wendy: I also hope it was Lizzie because I support women.
Did you write the song “Girls’ Power Jam”? If so, what’s the story behind that?
Lizzie: We did! I think we thought it would be fun to do our own version of a girl power song, and then we wrote lyrics (mainly Wendy did, to be honest—)
Wendy: Did I? I don’t remember.
Lizzie: And then we had all of the female writers sing it with us. Then we all synced our periods and became witches and put spells on our husbands!
Wendy: I turned mine into a coffee table, and now I put cups on him.
Do you have a favorite character to write for?
Wendy: I do love a good Gene non sequitur.
Lizzie: I love writing for all of our characters! And it was especially fun to write a character for Jillian Bell (who played Nat in the episode). She is hilarious and it was a delight to have her do a voice.
Wendy: Oh yeah, I stan for Jillian Bell. When I saw her in ’22 Jump Street,’ I was like, ‘WHO IS THAT GODDAMN ANGEL OF COMEDY!?’ Our main cast though is also made up of some of the funniest people who’ve ever existed, I think, and it’s such an honor to get to write for them. We’re so lucky.
Are the ideas still flowing for the show after eight seasons?
Wendy: I think so. And I still really enjoy working with all of the other writers at the show. We’ve almost all been there together for nine years, which is nuts. It never happens that a staff stays essentially together that long (knock wood), and now we all just speak to each other in basically a deep code of inside jokes that no one else would understand. You know, one particular episode gets nominated, and it has someone’s name on it, but each episode truly is a group effort. That’s how it works in TV.
Lizzie: It definitely has become a tad bit harder to dig for those new ideas and avoid things we’ve already done, but it’s also fun to push ourselves to do that. And we will keep doing it until someone comes and takes the typing machines away from us. And even then maybe we’ll just write ‘Bob’s Burgers’ plays and put them on for our parents and anyone else who wants to show up.
What does it mean for you to have the episode you wrote earn an Emmy nomination for the show?
Lizzie: It means we get all of the good snacks in the snack room and no one can say shit.
Wendy: And when I come to work without showering, people have to say I smell fine.
Lizzie: Honestly, it’s really nice.