Photo: Fox

Bob’s Burgers fan-animated episode – lazy or genius?

The animated comedy series Bob’s Burgers has just entered its 8th season, with the first episode, ‘Brunchsquatch,’ breaking with its usual animation aesthetic. The episode features a patchwork ensemble of 62 different animation styles submitted by nonprofessional fans – scene by scene, the artwork changes to that of a different fan animator. Could this episode simply be a cheap gimmick to keep the show fresh and give the animators a break, or is it a nod of acknowledgement and a platform for amateur artists?

This premiere episode of Bob’s Burgers will have been long awaited by fans, but due to the different animations, the opening episode won’t look quite right. Obviously, the same writers will have been involved so the plot and characters will remain quintessentially authentic. However, with animation, a large proportion of the appeal is the aesthetic – the chopping and changing between different animation styles (no matter how impressive they are) is often quite off-putting when actually watching the episode. This entire episode is built upon breaking down the familiar animation to showcase fan-made art, but how appealing will that be for people who watch the show for familiar style, rather than the plot?

It also shows the fans that they are appreciated by the producers of the show

Upon entering its 8th season, the writers of this show wanted to do something revolutionary. Many shows that have run as long as Bob’s Burgers, which first aired in 2011, will have a strong and dedicated fan base, many of whom may have created art in conjunction with the show. This worldwide showcase of their art not only gives a platform for artists who want to pursue a career in animation, it also shows the fans that they are appreciated by the producers of the show. The active audiences watching and creating in conjunction with the show may feel that they are being recognised and thanked for their dedication and support. Additionally, the episode airing with a menagerie of differing styles creates a sense of community for a variety of different people from different backgrounds, all joined together through their love of the show and desire to create fan art. Bob’s Burgers is the first show to ever have done this, and the excitement generated by this experiment was considerable.

Overall the premiere episode can be viewed in two different ways. Some fans may view the opening as unfamiliar and therefore unpleasant to watch, which could be potentially risky as the opening episode of a new season lays the ground for the number of viewers the rest of the series will draw. However, the animation submitted from amateur fans could be appealing to both new and old fans, as it shows that the producers are thankful for their dedicated audience, as well as inspiring a new generation of animators to begin honing in on their skills for a potential future in which they could find themselves animating TV shows and films.


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