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Class Struggle at the Wonder Wharf: Bob's Burgers' Working Class World

by Ethan Tussey

by Charlotte Howell for IN MEDIA RES

Much of the praise that Bob's Burgers has earned over its five seasons has centered on its positivity. Unlike many other animated sitcoms, the Belcher family visibly like and support each other. Moreover, they exist as part of a community in which they exist as part of a contellation of mostly well-meaning weirdos. While this is certainly the case, another adjective should be interjected in that description of the world in which the Belcher's exist: working-class. The seaside town in which Bob's Burgers is set is not a resort town, nor does the neighborhood in which the eponymous restaurant is located house upper-class residents or businesses. In fact, the affluent of the area are almost entirely self-isolated on King's Head Island, a place so removed from the Belchers' experience that any episode in which they travel their is rife jokes about the culture clash.

The only affluent character who regularly interacts with the Belchers is their landlord, Mr. Fishoeder. In his white suit, eye patch affectation, and general characterization as an eccentric, he often hyperbolizes upper-class, and occasionally even Bond-villain rich. However, Mr. Fishoeder's main business endeavor (and possibly his main source of income based on how often the Belchers admit to not paying their rent) is the local amusement park: Wonder Wharf. And Wonder Wharf is the clearest indicator of the show's firmly working-class world. Where many amusement parks seek to present a hyper-clean, idealized space, Wonder Wharf is known for its cheapness because Mr. Fishoeder believes he can get away with it in the context of the working-class town.

Wonder Wharf is full of delapidated and dangerous rides. Ex-cons work the attractions. In the recent season finale--a clip of which is found here--it's revealed that Mr. Fishoeder keeps the broken rides on part of his property, and yet they appear not too much worse-for-wear than the rides we've seen in operation at Wonder Wharf. Fishoeder's cost-cutting extends to forgoing recycling the old rides. The episode ends with Bob, Linda, and the other Fishoeder tenents re-banding together to protest the rent hikes. The final showdown and ultimate class conflict occurs in the detritus of the Wonder Wharf, among the remnants of the working-class signifier. The Wonder Wharf is both a symbol of Bob's Burgers' working class world and of Mr. Fishoeder's position as the exaggerated representation of the rich.

Summer Entertainment and Class Struggle

A clip from Bob's Burgers

from Bob's Burgers (2015)
Creator: Fox
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey