Last night’s Bob’s Burgers was a brilliant critique and gentle appreciation of Bronie culture. In the Bob’s universe, My Little Pony is “The Equestranauts,” and the show’s adult male fans are known as “Equesticals.”
Bob has to infiltrate the convention to reclaim Tina’s beloved Chariot doll, and this undercover operation includes Tina giving her dad a crash course on the show. She reminds him of his “pony name,” and Bob sort of snaps. “Why do I even need a name? Do you have a pony name?” he asks. “No, I’m a girl. Girls who watch the show are just girls,” Tina replies. Boom! There you go, in one Tina Belcher line, the idea that articulates what’s so frustrating about the modern fascination with Bronies: Why is being a fan of a show notable only when men do it?
Bob’s is, generally, a fan of fandoms: Tina writes a wide variety of fan fiction, and the show makes all kinds of references to other TV series (on this week’s episode, Gene wants to watch Melrose Place). Even Louise has had her own boy-band obsessions. There’s nothing wrong with loving a show, or really loving a show, or even liking “sexually charged awkward, confusing things,” as Tina admits to. As weird and goofy as the show often is, Bob’s exists in a very moral universe. The episode isn’t about ridiculing Bronies so much as insisting that no one person ought to be a corrupting force in what’s supposed to be a source of joy. Bob’s isn’t really mocking the lessons of the Equestranauts so much as it’s embracing them — being an Equestranaut means no judgement, after all.