Bob (1992) s01e05 – Terminate Her

The episode opens with Bob Newhart taking the L home and realizing there are a number of little people on the train and he comments on it to one of the little people. He does it in that muted Newhart way—the issue is his embarrassment over questioning whether or not people have the right to exist; it’s fairly gross and astoundingly dated. And very sad it wasn’t dated for 1992.

It’s an appropriate start for the episode, which is all about Newhart wanting to hire daughter Cynthia Stevenson to be a colorist on his comic book but John Cygan has already hired his girlfriend, Christine Dunford. Dunford is a ditzy, Bronx-rude blonde caricature and the episode is astoundingly sexist. Show creators Bill Steinkellner, Cheri Steinkeller, and Phoef Sutton wrote it, which is a surprise and a big disappointment.

The job stuff with Stevenson makes fun of her for not being able to get a job with her liberal arts degree, then shifts to Dunford. Newhart’s too nice to fire her while Cygan doesn’t seem to want to upset the relationship. But when Newhart can’t bring himself to do it, Cygan reveals the real problem is he’s a little bit of a woman when it comes to confrontation.

Luckily Timothy Fall’s around to make fun of Andrew Bilgore’s mental health issues and to suggest they kill Dunford to get rid of her.

The end manages to do introduce some toxic masculinity into the mix—it’s funny because Newhart’s tougher than Cygan (wokka wokka).

It’s a really gross episode, with all the laughs leveraging internalized or externalized misogyny. Though Bilgore gets a laugh. No one else gets a laugh.

Cygan’s got some terrible early nineties outfits again this episode—his performance is terrible but who can blame him, it’d be worse if he were any better—if only they were the only crap thing about it.

Oh, I forgot to mention Carlene Watkins, who gets to be subject of some sexism too. She doesn’t get to do anything in the episode herself, of course. Just to take some eye-widening shit.

It’s so bad. Possibly jumping off bad.

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