There is one mystery marring this generation's enjoyment of entertainment. One key question that begs — nay, demands — a response. A knot that this generation's greatest minds have not yet unravelled. Why the heck does Louise Belcher of Bob's Burgers fame always, always wear pink bunny ears? I mean, aside from that one episode that opens Season 3, "Ear-sy Rider," where the teenage boy steals them off her and she goes completely nuts in her attempt to get them back, Louise has always got them on. And I want to know why.
As the youngest of Bob's children, you'd expect her parents to perhaps still be dressing her — but realistically, they seem to have far less control over Louise's outfits than Tina or Gene's. Bob's Burgers is one of the best cartoons of all time, but I've got to call issue with this: They've offered us literally zero clues on this one. It's time to take to the dark thickets of the World Wide Web to see if someone, anyone, out there can offer us a convincing theory. I've checked all the usual suspects: blogs, Reddit, behind-the-scenes interviews to see if we can figure this one out together. Wish me luck! Let's dive down the Internet rabbithole and solve the rabbit ears thing once and for all.
The Reddit Theories
This thread offers up some great theories – some convincing, others just totally crackpot. Here's a sample of a few I liked:
"It's definitely the armor that covers her self-consciousness/subconscious weakness in some way or another, the Achilles Heel to her rampant nihilism, but we'll just see what the show runners reveal about it in time."
Then there's the tension-with-Lynda theory:
"Maybe she resents how much she looks like Lynda. She has the same features, and her hair looks to be almost exactly like Lynda's in the episode where her bunny ears are stolen. In the episode where all the kids pass up on family game night to keep playing with just Bob (even though he was just reading a magazine and not 'playing' back) it's made pretty clear that Louise favors Bob big time, to the point that she mentions she may take over the restaraunt when she's older. She also refers to Tina and Lynda as the Menstruation Nation in one episode, another small clue that she doesn't identify as much with them, but that could just be because she hasn't hit puberty yet or something."
You guys, this has to be it:
"Originally in the Simpson's, Marge was planned to have an episode where it is revealed under her hair is mutant bunny ears. The idea was cancelled but referenced in the arcade game. If Marge is electrocuted you can see them."
And saving the best for last, the Reddit community all seem obsessed with the theory "that she has a bald spot" because she's so emotionally close to Bob and it would mirror his. While I'm skeptical of this last one, I've got to say there's evidence to support it. In "Ear-sy Rider" when she loses her bunny ears, she spends the entire episode in a hoodie with the hood up, naturally.
The Blogosphere Theories
The Emotional Response
On the Tumblr, Bloggingboutburgers, the writer refutes the idea that Louise wears her bunny ears for any practical or street smart reason:
"I mean, if she wanted to hide something, she could have gone for any hat. A beanie, a cap, a hood… Something that could’ve made her more menacing and less noticeable."
They believe there's an emotional connection.
"Louise exists in that magical place in childhood, the time when your awareness of the world is sharpening, but puberty has not yet come to ravage your identity and moods and change your body into a stranger. For me Louise’s bunny ears are her her security blanket, warding off the hideous parts of growing up while still reaching for power as if you already have." She’s a kingpin Peter Pan."
The Cultural Response
Writer Rebecca Lynn believes the bunny ears should be understood in their pop cultural context. Who do we think of when we see bunny ears when paired with a character whose intentions aren't always, ahem, 100 percent good? From her blog, Lynn Cinnamon:
"Louise Belcher is a the ego unhinged. She says and does all the things we sometimes wish we could, all in the form of an adorable little girl wearing bunny ears that evoke, for me at least, Harvey, Donnie Darko, and a security blanket."
The Showrunner's Theory
In this truly excellent A.V Club interview with Bob's Burger showrunner Loren Bouchard, Bouchard is asked what the inspiration for Louise's ears was and whether they were part of the initial character design. Bouchard responded:
Right from the get-go. We knew we wanted to do that with her, partly inspired by this anime called Tekkonkinkreet — there was a kid who had this little bear hat, and I liked that weird combination of kid and animal where they become an animal by always being seen wearing these little ears. You get a little cognitive dissonance where you experience [Louise] both as a little girl and Bugs Bunny at the same time.
Here's a picture of the character (on the left) Bouchard means for reference:
This theory seems particularly appealing to me. Louise isn't just a complex little girl — she is, both literally and emotionally, a cartoon. She's the wonderfully wicked villain of the piece. She engages in subversive acts that make it difficult to figure out whether we're supposed to interpret the setting of Bob's Burgers as a real-life-place (like Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls, for example) or as the backdrop to a cartoon where physicality has no effect (think, for example, of all the anvils falling on characters in Looney Tunes and them simply getting up again and shaking off the shock).
So next time you check out Bob's Burgers, go right ahead and enjoy that overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction. You've let me rabbit on, you've given the issue paws for thought and now you understand the (rabbit)hole issue. #sorrynotsorry
Images: 20th Century Fox Television (5), Aniplex (1)