I’m not crying, you’re crying. ‘Bob’s Burgers’ delivers a heartfelt holiday episode

An animated character (Louise) in a pink bunny hat nervously stands in a spotlight to read the poem she has written.
In the Emmy-nominated “Bob’s Burgers” episode, “The Plight Before Christmas,” Bob and Linda try to attend all three kids’ holiday performances at the same time. Here, daughter Louise reads a poem she has written.
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In the “Bob’s Burgers” episode “The Plight Before Christmas,” Bob and Linda Belcher realize that their three children are all performing in different holiday programs at the same time — Tina has a play, Gene has a concert and little Louise has a reading of a poem she’s written. The couple scramble to attend them all in hilarious — and heartwarming — ways.

Supervising director Simon Chong says he knew they had a winner as soon as he’d read the script, written by show co-creator and two-time Emmy winner Loren Bouchard. “I just loved the way all the stories we were tracking paid off in the end,” he says. “When Tina shows up for her sister Louise towards the end, it makes me cry every time. It’s a really wonderful script in which every character shines.”

Not only does the Emmy-nominated holiday outing deliver an emotional third act, it also features a brilliant rendition of Philip Glass’ “Mishima / Closing” (from the film “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters”) performed by Gene’s all-xylophone school band. “Usually, we have characters talking very quickly on the show, but in the last five minutes of this episode, there’s not a lot of talking; it’s just music — the ‘Mishima’ soundtrack — playing. Finding the music that really sold that piece was tricky,” Chong says. Music arranger Courtney Swain rearranged the song to work with what the production had. “Philip Glass was so happy with what we did that they are rereleasing our arrangement of the song in a few weeks,” Chong adds.


‘Bob’s Burgers: The Movie,’ based on the animated sitcom, features the voices of H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts, Dan Mintz and Eugene Mirman.

May 26, 2022

As with most other episodes of the series, “The Plight Before Christmas” took about nine months to produce by Bento Box in Burbank and Yeson Entertainment in South Korea.

Chong believes that one of the reasons “Plight” was so effective is because it highlighted the importance of people being there for their friends and family in a meaningful way. “I think that really resonates with audiences today, because there’s so much going on in our world that is not really great,” he notes. “It’s easy to go on social media and just doom-scroll. But the Belchers truly care for each other and turn up for each other. This episode had a really nice payoff for fans who have really connected to these characters for the past 13 years.”

The director points out that Bouchard’s involvement also made the episode stand out. “Loren knows these characters inside and out — all our writers do, but this one was really his baby. It felt like he poured so much of himself into this episode. He is always very involved with the show, but he hadn’t written an episode himself for a while, until last year’s season finale — the ‘Blade Runner’ episode [titled “Some Like It Bot”] — which he co-wrote with Nora Smith. I think that probably gave him a little taste for writing again.”

Nighttime: An animated character with a moustache (Bob) talks with a man & a dog with lights strapped to their foreheads.
BOB’S BURGERS: Bob and Linda try to attend all three kids’ holiday performances at the same time in the “The Plight Before Christmas” episode of BOB’S BURGERS airing Sunday, Dec 11 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. BOB’S BURGERS © 2022 by 20th Television

Chong’s own involvement with the show is nearly as inspiring. A London-based art director, he had always been a fan of “Bob’s Burgers.” So, in his free time, he made an animated crossover fan video mixing characters from “Archer” and “Bob’s Burgers.” “It took me seven months to make this silly little short. About 24 hours after I posted it, Loren tweeted me and asked me if I wanted a job!” recalls the Welsh artist. “I had only worked in advertising and didn’t have any TV experience. I made the short just to teach myself how to animate better: I really had no idea that I’d be offered a job from the creator of the show and that I’d move to Los Angeles. It’s mind-blowing, because it really proves that there is no one way to get into this industry.”

Chong says two big animated holiday specials made a big impact on him: the Channel 4 British adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ “The Snowman” and the first holiday episode of “The Simpsons.” “That’s how I learned to draw,” he says. “I just kept drawing Homer endlessly. I remember watching that episode, and it gave me the same kind of vibe that ‘Bob’s Burgers’ does, where we see a family really caring for each other.


“It’s not easy to make people laugh, but it’s even harder to make people cry and feel emotion,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of the same writers on the show from the beginning, and they really understand these characters. We’re a show that never punches down. Everybody’s kind to each other, and we just get to live in that world for 20 minutes and come away feeling like we’ve had a big hug.”