Bob’s Burgers is a family-friendly animated sitcom on Fox you may have heard of but likely haven’t watched. With competition from the still-popular Family Guy and The Simpsons, a show about two parents and their three young kids running a burger restaurant doesn’t stand out from the pack. But if you spend just a little time with the Belchers, you’ll fall for this lovable family as they struggle to keep Bob’s Burgers afloat while engaging in antics with their fellow business neighbors, middle school kids, and community friends (which include morticians, pot farmers, and a guy who rollerblades in a Speedo). At the very least, the unique, laugh-out-loud voices of each of the characters are worth hearing for yourself.
Now in its seventh season, Bob’s Burgers finally dives deep into religious issues with the most recent episode in which the Belcher kids—Tina, Gene, and Louise—create a new religion to save their local aquarium. Seems that children nowadays no longer seem to appreciate starfish touch tanks, and the museum’s owner Judy isn’t making enough money and can’t pay her taxes. When they discover that churches receive special tax breaks that other nonprofits don’t receive, they come up with the plan to convert the science center into a religious institution called “Aquaticism.”
Louise, often the leader of the more extreme antics on the show, begins the process of registering Aquaticism as a religion with the IRS. When asked to provide a history of the church, she writes, “Aquaticism has been making waves and touching lives for over thirty years.” After submitting the application, the kids think they’re in the clear, until they learn an IRS agent named Roger will conduct an official inspection to verify its legitimacy. Enter all the characteristics of a church: religious literature, a youth group called the Groupers, and a baptismal ceremony that requires converts to jump into a jellyfish tank. But when Roger actually takes to the fish-friendly beliefs of Aquaticism and wants to officially join the church, things eventually take a very painful turn.
The episode is filled with hilarious fish puns (Gene: “We must have done quite a job to make a smart guy like you believe in our fishy shtick”), but what’ll hopefully keep you interested in watching Bob’s Burgers are the charming Belcher kids.
In real life, the process of establishing a new religion isn’t as difficult as it seems (check out HBO’s John Oliver segment where he creates the “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” church), and it’s great that the writers of the show decided to use humor to highlight the unfair tax advantages churches enjoy while promoting some pretty wild beliefs. I will say that I’d have no problem with establishing Aquaticism as a religion if it meant free trips to science museums to learn about the beauty of ocean life (and unlimited time enjoying the touch tank, of course).