Yo Gene, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Tina and Jimmy Jr. had one of the greatest kisses of all time. Well, maybe not as good as the first time (episode 106, “Sheesh! Cab, Bob?”) because this time wasn’t an ode to Sixteen Candles, but damnit there was pie. And vomit. It was a great kiss, tucked inside a subplot in which Louise flexed her evil mastermind schtick.
The main plot on last night’s Bob’s Burgers, meanwhile, was high school personified. Somehow Gene ended up a popular kid! He wasn’t even the one talking about farts — no, that was Tammy (Jenny Slate), who’s slowly morphing into what I hope is a recurring character rather than just a guest. Gene and Tammy would make a fart power couple, despite the apparent gaps in their longterm social standings and attractiveness.
No one is more excited about Gene’s cheerleading career than Linda, who shows the stripes of her past in a big way this week. Linda Belcher was a wannabe, the worst kind of nerd because she could not accept her own invisibility. Linda’s so-called high school BFF Monica was a cheerleader, one whom Linda primped over and ass-kissed. (I wonder where Gayle stands in all this — she’s too weird to even be a hanger-on.) All this is to say, Linda has some advanced thought on cheerleading routines, which ends up aiding Gene and his squad in the regional competition. This is, of course, only after Linda deems Gene her favorite child, buys a cheerleading skirt, shuns Gene when he acts like a diva, then loves him the most again. Gene is a hero, again. This week was a roller coaster, it’s usually just like, “oh Gene, you told a fart joke, stop talking now.”
So how did Gene come to join cheerleading in the first place? Tina. Like her mother, Tina possesses some small desire to connect with the populars. Also, she likes the cheerleaders’ proximity to wrestlers. “When things get sweaty, that’s the splash zone,” she tells Bob. Her tryout routine ends with her hand-standing into the judges’ table and biting her tongue, which in turn sets off the episode’s subplot in which Louise serves as Tina’s translator/romantic advisor (playing hard to get works, media testimony #9831). The other thing it sets in motion is Gene, who does what Tracy Morgan’s 30 Rock character calls a “ghetto mating call” (i.e. a man lifting up his shirt and spanking his chubby belly). Somehow, this grabs the attention of cheerleading coach Mr. Ambrose, played by Billy Eichner in the most Billy Eichner role of his life. If you think Eichner on Parks and Recreation is just his whole cranky bit molded into a government worker, wait ’til you see Ambrose. The animators really nailed Eichner’s hand flails and contorted, mid-yell facial expressions.
The thing about Ambrose is that he loves drama, and he will do anything to create it within his squad. Todd (played by Keegan-Michael Key), the only male cheerleader before Gene joins the squad, is immediately threatened by Gene and makes threats — via Zeke — against him. At first you think Gene will just quit the squad, because he only really joined for the silk cheer shorts, but he’s actually pretty good. He won a cheer-off like he’s Gabrielle Union in Bring It On (and brrr it’s cold in here), and he dreamt up a regionals routine comprised of “semi-erotic robotics.” Sadly, Mr. Ambrose leaks said routine to a Wagstaff rival, because “having your cheer stolen five minutes before your routine is incredibly dramatic.” The squad improvises with Linda’s pinwheel routine, which involves stacking five children on top of one another and tumbling forward. Obviously it fails and they place last.
Because this is Bob’s Burgers and the continuity is sporadic at best, we will probably never hear about Gene’s cheerleading career again. I can live with that so long as “Gene It On” provides another takeaway in terms of longterm plot: please let this be the episode where Tina and Jimmy Jr. get past the hump. Not literally the hump because they are waaaaay too young, but let this be the episode that allows the Tina-Jimmy relationship to form for real. For crying outloud, they both want to watch a movie together, walk on the beach, and find somewhere to sit in the kelp and kiss. Just so long as the movie’s not 27 Dresses; Jimmy’s seen it three times already, so that’s 81 dresses total.