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Film and TV

Controversial cartoon Bob’s Burgers says its Black trans sex worker character will no longer be voiced by a white cis man

Lily Wakefield June 30, 2020
Bob's burgers trans Marshmallow

Marshmallow is often being used by the show as a symbol of LGBT+ inclusiveness, but its trans representation has a long way to go. (Bob's Burgers/ Twitter)

Bob’s Burgers has finally announced that the character of Marshmallow, a Black trans sex worker, will no longer be voice by a white cisgender man.

The cartoon has a questionable history of trans representation, despite Marshmallow often being heralded by the show’s creators as a symbol of LGBT+ inclusivity.

Marshmallow has, until now, been voiced by white cisgender actor David Herman. But as a number of shows present and historic grapple with misrepresentation, the show’s creator, Loren Bouchard, has finally suggested that he will be removed from the role.

 

Bob’s Burger creator removes Kristen Bell from mixed race Central Park role.

Bouchard’s newest animated sitcom Central Park, which debuted in May this year, received backlash after it was revealed that white actor Kristen Bell would voice Black mixed race character Molly.

Last week, the show’s creators announced that the character would be recast, replacing Bell with a Black or mixed race actor, and that Bell would be cast in a different role.

In a joint statement posted on social media, they said: “We profoundly regret that we might have contributed to anyone’s feelings of exclusion or erasure… Our shop and our show will be better for respecting the nuances and complexity around the issue of representation and trying to get it right.”

While fans appreciated the apology and casting change, they were concerned that there would be no such correction for the trans character of Marshmallow in Bob’s Burgers.

But when one Twitter user insisted “now do the same for our girl Marshmallow”, Bouchard responded: “Yes. On it.”

While the confirmation of her recasting is a step in the right direction, Bob’s Burgers fans are still looking for better trans representation.

In the 10 episodes she has appeared in Marshmallow is usually sidelined, with her transness often used as a punchline.

Marshmallow was introduced in the season one episode “Sheesh! Cab, Bob?”, in which Bob befriends a group of sex workers.

The group are mostly portrayed as trans women and drag queens but, according to Mashable, every one of them was voiced by a cisgender man.

The 2011 episode contains plenty of misgendering, use of the word “transvestite” and transphobic stereotypes.

In 2017, fans created a petition to have an entire episode revolve around Marshmallow and her backstory, because “representation matters”. The show has not confirmed or denied whether this will happen.

 

More: Bob's burgers, Central Park, David Herman, kristen bell, Loren Bouchard, Marshmallow, transphobic

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