Movies + TV

Hero Status: Tina Belcher

She’s a strong, sensual woman.

Illustration by Ana

Illustration by Caitlin

Puberty is a great divider. The shift from “stupid” to “cool” arrives fast and hard, as if an asteroid of hormones has smashed into your brain, leaving a crater between what is acceptable and what is most certainly not. Simple things—like laughing at someone’s joke, tapping someone on the shoulder, or even the way you walk down a hall—suddenly take on deeper meaning as puberty makes us excruciatingly aware of how our actions and reactions are being monitored by others. For most of us, it’s impossible to cross that divide without worrying about what other people think of us. Being a teenager is an intense and confusing experience, and it doesn’t help that we’re often seen as walking zits with a propensity for texting as opposed to, you know, human beings with complex emotions.

So thank the pop culture gods for Tina Belcher. She’s the eldest child of the family at the center of the Fox cartoon Bob’s Burgers. At 12 years of age, Tina is right smack in the middle of the puberty-driven “cool”/“stupid” divide. I’m awarding Tina Hero Status for her ability to navigate this tricky stage without shame, and with confidence in the face of staggering awkardness. Here are some of the things I love about her:

1. She’s open and honest about her body.
The first words we hear from Tina (voiced by the wonderful Dan Mintz) in the first episode are “My crotch is itchy.” She doesn’t say it to a school nurse, a best friend, or her diary—she says it to her father, in front of her entire family. She’s not afraid to complain about things like bra chafing or to freely admit that her breath smells like fish. No matter what Tina goes through—whether it’s “pubing out pretty hard” (in the words of her sister, Louise) or slipping into her alter ego, Dina, an extroverted food-truck worker——she retains a strong sense of her own identity. She approaches everything with curiosity, even when she’s riddled with anxiety (usually expressed through the classic Tina moan), and ends up with a serene kind of acceptance that she’s going to be OK.

2. She’s confident about her sexuality.
When Tina’s parents ask how she wants to celebrate her 13th birthday, she has her answer at the ready: a smoke machine and the perfect first kiss with her major crush, Jimmy Pesto, Jr. She makes no secret of her desires, including her desire for Jimmy, or her admiration for the male posterior (Tina loves butts and all things related to butts). She doesn’t wait around for boys to ask her out; she goes for what she wants, including taking Jimmy to the dance, kissing another love interest, Josh, behind the milk case, and a failed attempt at a love triangle with both of them. She doesn’t see rejection as failure, though, but rather as a necessary byproduct of taking risks.

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3. She’s a good sister.
The Belcher kids have very distinct personalities (Tina is deadpan, Gene is hyperactive, and Louise doesn’t take crap from anybody), but they all support one another. In the season three episode “Boyz 4 Now,” Louise reluctantly helps Tina get to a concert by her favorite boy band, then unexpectedly falls in love with one of the band members and needs Tina to help her navigate her first crush.

Tina also allows Louise to coach her in areas where she’s lacking confidence: Louise’s take-no-prisoners attitude towards kissing, for example, gives Tina the boost she needs to step past her insecurities.

Tina’s empathy and her unwavering playfulness and curiosity (even as age pulls her away from her siblings) make her relationships with Louise and Gene deeper and more nuanced than any other sibling relationship on TV.

4. She’s a total weirdo (in the best way).
Tina Belcher is a writer, a daydreamer, a horse girl, an aspiring reporter, a terrible driver, a capoeira dancer, a romantic, an espresso addict (for a little while), and she’s always on the lookout for new erotic friend fiction ideas, particularly those involving butts. She has lots of funny sayings, like “My heart just pooped its pants” and “I have a complicated relationship with zombies. They’re dangerous but I love their swagger.” Come on—she’s 100 percent the best in every possible way. If she knew we were giving her Hero Status, she’s probably respond with her trademark humility, which only makes us love her more. ♦

28 Comments

  • Helen June 19th, 2013 11:10 PM

    love. her.

  • Lisa R June 19th, 2013 11:19 PM

    Oh my gosh, YES! Tina is my fave!

  • Adrienne June 19th, 2013 11:23 PM

    I LOVE TINA!!! She’s the reason I watch the show. My favorite scenes are when she’s learning how to drive and when she’s selling “blueberries”. Omg and I love her unsure moan/groan.

  • Tangerine June 19th, 2013 11:30 PM

    YES.

    ROOKIE, YOU’RE PERFECT.

  • Samantha June 20th, 2013 12:33 AM

    Tina is the best part of a spectacular show!

    Oddly enough, she’s helped me come to terms with my own awkward adolescent past. Thanks Tina! You really are a hero!

  • lacecat June 20th, 2013 12:56 AM

    I LOVE TINA BELCHER
    She is my spirit animal and I love her erotic friend fiction
    T is for the way you take my breath away
    I is for the way I like it when you take my breath away
    N is for no one else can take my breath away
    A is for asthma, that is a disease that takes people’s breaths away
    <3<3 this is so perfect omg and I've had friends that would compare me to her

    • Anaheed June 20th, 2013 1:06 AM

      clapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclap

    • whatever June 20th, 2013 3:08 PM

      *slow clap*

  • irismonster June 20th, 2013 2:05 AM

    I love Tina so much! But dare I say that Louise is even more of a hero? I think of Louise as a feminist icon in the sense that she’s independent and brave and can lead people to do whatever she wants and think it’s in their best interest. I aspire to be Louise, except not, you know, eight.

  • haleyisokay June 20th, 2013 2:45 AM

    I channeled my inner Tina after reading this to facebook message a boy.

  • rubypowers June 20th, 2013 2:46 AM

    I LOVE Tina! I bought that “I’m a Smart, Strong, Sensual woman” button to give myself a lil’ ego boost.

    ~Tina is the best I hope Bobs Burgers doesn’t get canceled~

  • izi June 20th, 2013 4:18 AM

    i freaked out when i saw this. tina belcher is everything i strive to be in life

  • AidaA June 20th, 2013 4:31 AM

    Yes Yes Yes! I love Tina! She’s too amazing. I feel like in ten or fifteen years she’s still gonna be remembered. I need her on a t-shirt

    -Aida

    http://sunshinesuperwoman.blogspot.co.uk

  • Sophie ❤ June 20th, 2013 6:16 AM

    I LOVE TINA! You also did a great job with this, Rookie!

    http://plainlysophie.com

  • kati June 20th, 2013 9:09 AM

    this is the best!! c:

  • Laia June 20th, 2013 9:55 AM

    tina belcher forever.

  • darksideoftherainbow June 20th, 2013 10:41 AM

    ugh, this is making me wanna watch bob’s burgers! i’ve been so against watching it bc i need that voice to belong to ARCHER only!! i live and die for archer so idk if i can do it! although i did love that crossover episode at the beginning of this past season :/ ohh what to DO??

  • forevernymph June 20th, 2013 1:07 PM

    By far, she is the best part of that show. Haha, I don’t even watch it that often ^_^

  • Juli June 20th, 2013 1:33 PM

    TINA YOU ARE MY LIFE. I love Tina and the gang so much. I have to say that I adore Gene’s antics the most, but you’re right about Tina being such an unwaveringly strong female. You hardly ever get to see women like that on television, let alone in animated programs. I wish Tina would just forget about Jimmy Jr., though (She can do so much better, like the guy behind the milk aisle!)

  • nicoledelcore June 20th, 2013 2:11 PM

    This is kind of an asshole thing to point out, but the luvvv interest voiced by Ben Schwartz is named Josh. There’s that little moment right after he first tells her his name where she goes JOSHHHHH-OOWAAAH. Also, this is perfect.

    • Danielle June 20th, 2013 4:46 PM

      Not at all! Thank you for pointing it out. :)

  • ArmyOfRabbits June 20th, 2013 2:22 PM

    Wow, I really missed out on tv. I can totally relater to her. Thanks for sharing!

  • michelley-elley-elley June 20th, 2013 3:31 PM

    I am pretty much Tina through and through, right down to the deep voice and erotic friend fiction. My math teacher, who is a big Bob’s Burgers fan called me Tina when he handed me a test back once and ran away snickering. I never take it as an insult though, I love Tine :) Great article!

  • spudzine June 20th, 2013 5:42 PM

    A huge smile appeared on my face when I saw Tina’s picture on Rookie. This is one of THE best posts on Rookie, because it’s TRUE! I mean, Tina’s probably the first cartoon role model on Rookie, and she’s def one of the best. She’s great! There is so much love for Tina, and I aspire to have the same confidence as her~

    PS- Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls is also a big favorite of mine, jsyk

    http://spudzine.tumblr.com/
    http://emotwins.tumblr.com/
    http://rockogirl.tumblr.com/

  • Imreallyrosie June 20th, 2013 7:06 PM

    Tina is the best! I also love the whole family. Gene’s fart noises are hilarious.

  • steelwoolsweater June 23rd, 2013 3:36 AM

    OH MY GOODNESS YES YES YES THANK YOU I’VE WANTED THIS FOR SO LONG

  • airplanes.books June 26th, 2013 4:01 AM

    boob punch, crap attack.

    bad tina is my favorite episode.

  • Imaginary Melissa July 19th, 2013 8:46 PM

    Bob’s Burgers is awesome! I’ve been watching since the very first episode. All the characters are awesome and weird and funny in their own way. The writers for the show are pure geniuses!