What is Bojack Horseman?
Bojack Horseman was created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg.
It is an absurdist cartoon in which anthropomorphic animals and humans exist together, there is no explanation for this, it is simply how the world works.
This scenario is used to make both jokes and commentary on Western (mostly American) culture and society.
The titular character Bojack Horseman (Will Arnett) is a washed-up sitcom actor who’s not been living the most productive or healthy lifestyle since his show was cancelled.
The show explores many themes in both serious and humorous categories. Such as mental health and trauma, addiction, capitalism, reality TV, the list goes on. All of these, even when being used humorously, are treated with a lot of care and respect. These scenes are mature and realistic, sometimes eerily close to relatable.
The first five seasons are such a good ride because rather than just making jokes, the characters to develop a lot too.
During the first two or so seasons, the main theme is a comedy, but it pulls back when necessary to show important emotional moments and character relationships developing or falling apart.
Then after developing these characters in the background of the humour, seasons three and four pull back to show the complexity of the characters, as well as showing important and emotional flashbacks. The humour still exists but at this point, you are committed to the characters, their desires, motivations etc.
In season 5 being the darkest and most depressing of the series, climaxing in Bojack doing something that is almost unforgivable. Throughout the series, Bojack is an almost antihero, you understand why he acts in certain ways and the logic behind his actions, but that doesn’t justify them.
His character is flawed and he’s with toying wanting to be a good person and not knowing how to be, this is a huge part of the show for me personally. Season five was a bitter pill to swallow but it ended in a way that allowed Bojack to be redeemed, he was sent off to rehabilitation for his drug use.
Normally, Bojack is split up into seasons of 12 episodes, however, as season six ( released on 25th October 2019) is the final season, they have decided to make it two parts with eight episodes. While this season is a few episodes shorter, it’s a setup for the second half coming early/mid-January.
These eight episodes are what was needed after season five, sugar and honey to make the medicine go down. The season certainly has some setups that suggest part two is going to be rougher for certain characters but this half of the season is generally upbeat, with things going well for pretty much all of the major characters.
Todd (Aaron Paul) is on the same type of wacky adventures as he has been for most of the previous series, providing some great comic relief as he tries more stupid ideas and situations.
Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) is back to her usual self except this time she’s also managing a baby with her job as a Hollywood agent.
Diane (Alison Brie) has moved to Chicago and is struggling to write her memoir, which is an interesting mirror of Bojack being unable to write his in season one.
And Bojack is improving himself at rehab, struggling with the prospect of having to re-enter the real world at some point.
The contrast in this season is Mr Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) who is struggling with the guilt of rushing into his newest marriage, while also touring the world as the face of depression. The sadness of this season is focused around him is contrasting given he’s usually the overly optimistic character – due to him being a Labrador.
The social commentary of the season is generally focused on corporations. The Whitewhale company is introduced and suddenly starts buying out every store. A very on-the-nose comparison to companies like Disney and Microsoft who monopolise a lot of markets.
While the general nature of this half of the series is good-natured and feel good, it also does a really good job of setting up conflict ready for part two. For example, Bojack’s character is going to be tested and we are going to see if his sobriety and a new outlook on life is enough.
The one minor criticism I have applies to the whole show. The social commentary they make is not particularly subtle and it is pretty easy to spot who the target is. While subtlety and mystery aren’t required to make social commentary good in media, it would improve the show if they were subtler, especially when the commentary should be serious and isn’t there for a joke.
Overall, I’m thoroughly excited to see the final series in January and season six part one is a great show so far, so give it a watch.