written by David Lartey
BoJack Horseman is not your typical animated series, so disregard all of your opinions and preconceptions you have acquired from watching The Simpsons (1989 – present) or South Park (1997 – present). Netflix’s BoJack Horseman is a far cry from the likes of these animated programmes.
The series revolves around the titular character who is, indeed, a horse man. Much like many of the other characters in his world, BoJack has human characteristics yet resembles an animal and occasionally behaves as such. In the world of BoJack Horseman, this is the norm and there is no explanation for why this is. In the 90’s BoJack’s sitcom Horsin’ Around propelled him into the seemingly glamorous life of a Hollywood star. The series begins in 2014 with Horseman trying to revive his faded celebrity status years after the cancellation of Horsin’ Around and this drives him into misadventures involving the 4 other central characters: Diane, his ghost writer, Todd, his roommate/house guest, Princess Carolyn, his agent and sometimes lover, and Mr. Peanutbutter, his “nemesis”. What these 4 characters have in common, besides their tumultuous relationship with Horseman, is their own share of problems, involving mental health, abandonment, marriage and pregnancy complications, sexuality and overcoming sheltered naivety. Their stories often intertwine and the portrayal of these issues amongst others such as sexual harassment, gun violence and capitalism continue to receive well-deserving praise for its perfect balance of sensitivity, humour and accuracy.
The final 8 episodes begin with reporters Paige and Max whom are closing in on piecing together the remaining details of Horseman’s blemished past to draft a story exposing his wrongdoings. They originally aim to resolve the speculation of BoJack’s involvement in his friend Sarah Lynn’s death as a result of an overdose. Yet they stumble across Penny, an adolescent deer whom BoJack was once discovered in a compromising position with while she was a teenager. The remaining main characters put their issues on hold to come together to assist BoJack in preparing for the aftermath of the story releasing.
Before dropping everything to help BoJack in typical fashion, Diane was battling depression which, in turn, was clouding her productiveness in trying to write the memoir of her life. This is shown in the 10th episode: Good Damage it was a satisfying insight into Diane’s mind, something viewers have wanted to see for a long time. It was satisfying because it echoes BoJack’s attempt in writing his own memoir in season 1. I think the season successfully provides closure on Diane’s life, paying attention to the details of her past as well as her future. The remainder of the season follows Diane’s decisions on meeting her new boyfriend’s son, the topic of the book she’s writing, and whether she should move to Texas with her boyfriend after growing attached to the Chicago lifestyle.
Season 6 sees the most emotional version of Todd. He begins dating fellow asexual Maude and confronts his mother about abandoning him all those years ago. I felt this storyline was heart-warming not only because it showed Todd at his most vulnerable, but it also allowed the revelation that despite this awful thing that happened to him, he was always in good spirits and never declined to help a friend in need.
Mr Peanutbutter’s storyline provides a comic relief as usual; he juggles managing a restaurant with resolving his relationship with his fiancé Pickles by merging the two and also throwing his new friend Joey Pogo into the mix. Eventually, he winds up single for the first time in a very long time and is trying to adjust to this; a simple end for a simple guy.
Princess Carolyn has found a balance in motherhood and her work but puts a halt on this to help BoJack recover his reputation after Paige and Max’s story breaks. She contends with Diane’s claims to make BoJack take responsibility for his actions by suggesting he plays the victim and asks for sympathy in a TV interview. Princess Carolyn’s plan works but BoJack defies her suggestions to speak little more about the story after his reputation is repaired. He then ruins their progress and reverts back to square one and ends up struggling to resist the urge to indulge in his comfort blanket: booze and pills.
BoJack slips into a dreamlike fantasy after relapsing and encounters the ghosts of his past, literally. The penultimate episode misleads the audience into thinking BoJack makes a permanent visit to the other side after almost drowning in his pool during a drug and alcohol-infused bender. He meets his mother, father/hero: Secretariat, great-uncle, friends: Sarah-Lynn and Herb Kazazz. All of whom have died and are preparing BoJack for what he thinks is his end. The sequence is trippy, haunting and beautiful. The scene that stood out the most to me amongst the chaotic events of the penultimate episode is the character of Secretariat, who embodies the spirit of Horseman’s late father, reading out a poem he wrote about the seconds leading up to his suicide.
The final episode wraps up a BoJack’s lifelong struggle by metaphorically saying “it’s not over yet”. After individual heart to hearts with the other main characters, he resolves not only his conflict within but also with the closest people to him. My interpretation is that they all, in some way, make him realise that in order to grow, he has to open himself up for change instead of fearing it. This could have perhaps been the writers’ way of preparing us for life without BoJack. The end of the series hints to BoJack cutting ties with his friends and showing his acceptance to that. This allows a measure of hope because after all, if he can be okay after falling out of touch with the people who give his life meaning, he is envisioning unconditional meaning in his life.
My only critiques of the final episodes were the fact that we didn’t get to see Hollyhock’s letter to BoJack which was the catalyst for him relapsing and almost dying. We can only assume that Hollyhock, his half-sister, wrote to him to denounce their relationship upon finding out about all the terrible things he has done. I felt it was a significant device for the series and was confused as to why we were left in the dark about it.
Overall, I think the finale served its purpose; there was no tragedy or happy ever after, there were loose threads that didn’t get wrapped up neatly into a bow, the show just ended, but life went on.
Overall score: 9.8/10