Bob’s Burgers Nude Beach Episode Gets It Right (Almost)
Bob’s Burgers Nude Beach Episode – I’m a big fan of the popular cartoon sitcom, Bob’s Burgers. The show is about a family that runs an average burger joint named after the dad. Parents Bob and Linda Belcher are raising three kids: Tina, Louise and Gene.
The show is funny, original, and most unexpectedly, sex-positive. (The sex-positive attitudes show through the three kids characters as well as the parents’ attitudes towards sexuality.) The show is now entering its 5th season on Fox, and I wanted to review an episode from season 3 that’s particularly relevant to us nudies. It’s called “Nude Beach.”
In this episode, Bob has issues with his restaurant health inspectors and at the same time, a nude beach opens up in town. It starts out with Hugo, his usual nemesis health inspector, who gives bob’s burgers a “C” rating after Bob fails to show his “hand washing certification.” The family asks Hugo and his partner who they’re going to harass next when the following dialog ensues:
Hugo: “Well Bob if you must know perhaps you’ve heard our town is now home to a disgusting nude beach! There have been reports of vendors there serving food while n-n-naked.”
Tina: “That’s how the vendors served food in the Bible.”
Hugo: “Don’t bring religion into this!”
The Bible comment is funny, but I know it doesn’t seem like we’re off to a good start. We’ve got the usual “ew, gross” comment about naked people at a nude beach. But it gets better!
Linda seems happy about the nude beach and asks Bob when they’ll get to go. Bob replies, “Nude beaches are full of overweight, out of shape old bodies and I don’t wanna go there and realize I look exactly like that.”
Bob’s line starts out negative, but turns out to be a gem of honesty and self-awareness. A lot of times people are uncomfortable or express disgust with naked bodies because they’re ashamed of their own naked bodies. It reminds them of how they themselves don’t measure up to society’s beauty standards. Instead of ridiculing others, Bob admits that he looks just like them and is open about his own body image issues. (Of course this is still propagating the myth that everyone on the nude beach is old and ugly by society’s standards, but there are more body-positive moments to come.)
Tina wants to go visit the nude beach and offers to go with her mom Linda for a fun “mother daughter nudity day.” But Bob says he’s pretty sure kids aren’t allowed there.
Linda ends up going to the beach with her friend Gretchen. They come upon a sign that says the beach is for age 18+, and this is a strange premise, as most nude beaches don’t have an age restriction. It’s also unfortunately reinforcing the idea that naturism is an “adult” activity and not appropriate for kids. (In reality many families and kids frequent nude beaches.)
The beach scene is otherwise an accurate portrayal. There’s a variety of people sunbathing, playing sports, socializing etc. But even though it’s a cartoon, they avoid showing any genitals. I also found it a little surprising how they show male nipples but not female nipples. All the background characters assumed to be women are covering their chests in some way or they’re strategically blocked. We’re talking about two flesh-colored dots. Is the Fox network afraid to lose their sponsors over two dots? Or is this the FCC protecting everyone from cartoon dots? It’s pretty absurd either way.
Meanwhile, Tina, Louise and Gene go to check out the beach from a distance. They see that it’s located underneath a cliff, and crafty Louise gets an idea. They hash-out a plan to carve out an overlook on the cliff with a view of the nude beach and sell “nudity tours to teenage boys.” Gene says, “It’s like the Internet but outside!” This is a nice wink to the fact that kids aren’t allowed at the beach, but naked people and even porn is so easily seen online.
As Gene and Tina blaze a trail through the bushes (so they could reach a point where the nude beach can be seen) Louise proclaims, “We’re gonna be the Lois and Clark of nudism!”
While the kids are busy with their master plan, Linda and Gretchen are hanging out at the beach. They spot a drum circle and Linda is shocked to recognize one of the drummers – it’s Naked Hugo! The health inspector discovered he loved the nude beach. He even takes a leave of absence from his job to pursue his new found love for nudism.
Back at the restaurant, Linda tells Bob about Hugo, and the kids casually reveal their plans for making money off the nude beach. Here the parents express their tacit approval of the kids seeing nudity. While they abide by the beach’s 18+ rule, they have no problem with the kids looking from a distance. Bob just wishes them good luck.
At school, the kids work on enticing their classmates into seeing the naked people at the nude beach. They also gain a new partner, Daryl, who has a telescope they can use. The next day they have a line of kids ready to pay $1 each to get a peak. Daryl sells it with a little mantra – “Look through this tube, see some boob. Gimme the green, see some peen.”
However once the other kids get a glimpse, they’re disappointed in seeing “gross” old people. Louise takes charge of the situation and changes their perspective with a wonderful sales pitch: “You guys! You’re looking at this the wrong way! You wanna see nice bodies, get a magazine. This is real, people! Check out that guy! What is that, is that a liver spot? Is that a birth mark? Is that a third nipple? Who knows! You can’t write this crap!”
Her pitch renews interest, and the young customers line up to see real-life naked people. The activity is still a bit voyeuristic, but now the kids are excited to see the naked bodies they don’t get to see otherwise. Typical nudity in movies and magazines is restricted to one body type and one fake homogenized look. Here, ironically, the kids have to observe a nude beach from afar and through a lens to see real bodies.
Back at the restaurant, Bob is fighting with the new health inspector who shuts him down and starts blackmailing him. Bob figures his only hope to fix everything is to get Hugo to return to his job. He ends up competing with Hugo in the “Nudecathalon” – their nude Olympics at the nude beach, with 27 activities that included a two-legged race, long jump, tug-a-war and wrestling.
Up on the cliff, the Belcher kids get a surprise in seeing their own dad naked on the beach. They see it as punishment for “playing with fire.” Louise is disturbed and dramatically covers her eyes. Tina remarks “I think dad looks pretty good considering he’s had 3 kids.” But they keep watching the Nudecathalon and soon they’re swept up in the excitement and cheer on Bob to win.
Bob loses and I really laughed at how Louise describes him: “Naked and defeated, just the way he entered this world.”
In the end Hugo returns to his job anyway, as he misses his position of power. For his cost of losing the Nudecathalon, Bob has to cater the closing ceremony for everyone. The nudies file in and slide into booths. Hugo tells them, “Don’t bother with courtesy tissues on the seats!” I’m not sure if this is him making a health-inspector joke or trying to dig more at Bob. Then Tina proposes cleaning the gum under the tables. Bob quickly says no.
So there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and give it an A- for its representation of naturism.
The “Nude Beach” episode aside, Bob’s Burgers never disappoints when it comes to the Belcher family’s approach to sex and nudity. I could not recommend this show enough and wish more parents adopted such an open and non judgmental approach to raising children!
Thie review of the Bob’s Burgers Nude Beach Episode was published by –Young Naturists & Nudists America